Florida bill would boost rental-vehicle tax for road projects

| 5/18/2006

Voters in Florida counties would get to decide whether to double the $2 daily surcharge on rental vehicles under a bill approved by the state’s House and Senate. It now heads to Gov. Jeb Bush, who said the odds of him signing it were 50-50.

The provision to allow counties to hold referendums to boost the surcharge was added to a bill – S1350 – that would raise the bonding limits for turnpike projects. House lawmakers voted 103-4 to send the bill back to the Senate for final approval where it passed on a 34-4 vote.

Supporters said an increase from $2 to $4 on the cost of rental vehicles could raise $150 million statewide for roads, Tallahassee Democrat reported. Revenue would be used for local transportation projects.

Supporters say gridlocked regions in the state are being cheated out of transportation funding because many of the people who rent vehicles aren’t accounted for when highway funds are distributed, The Associated Press reported.

Sen. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Park, said formulas for determining how much an area gets for road and bridge work are based on population – but don’t figure in the half million tourists on Orlando’s roadways on any given day.

Opponents, however, say it’s not just tourists who rent vehicles. They say local residents and businesses also would be hit with the additional fee.