HB865 has passed out of the Finance and Tax Committee against protest from residents of Pinellas County on February 15th. See the video
The bill was Sponsored by Representative Ed Hooper and Sen. Jack Latvala
The Pinellas Bus System (PSTA) is Bankrupt.
Operating on reserves, last September PSTA raised our transit tax by 30%.
Still, PSTA is running out of money and near the legal tax cap.
They bought about 3 years with the tax increase
On January 30th, PSTA voted to go forward with constructing a
$2 Billion 24-mile Light Rail system in Pinellas County.
Only the government would attempt to save a failing system by massive expansion!
And For starters, they need an additional 1% county sales tax!
This is where HB865 comes in, to convince us to pass the 1% hike they will "swap" out real estate transit tax
· HB 865 says if we will vote to impose an additional 1% sales tax on ourselves, PSTA will stop
collecting the small 0.730% transit tax on our real estate bill!
· HB 865 will make it easier to convince voters to pass a 1% sales tax increase!
· HB 865 will enable rail advocates to falsely sell this tax increase as Tax Swap!
· HB 865 will enable the false messaging of a tax reduction on real estate tax
Pinellas sales tax would be 8%!
This is no swap, it is a bait and switch!
This is a calculated move to impose a $100 Million tax increase!
FACT: Current Pinellas transit Ad Valorem tax revenue is $32 Million.
A 1% transit sales tax would generate $130 million!
This is not revenue neutral, this is a tax increase!
It is the amount needed for light Rail and the PSTA bus bailout in Pinellas.
When faced with the same situation last year, Hillsborough cut underutilized bus routes, raised fares, laid off staff, cut the budget!
It is disingenuous to call this a tax swap when it sets into motion a 1% sales surtax and removes $100 million out of our local economy!
Tell those state committee members:
"What you are voting on is light rail for Pinellas."
Ask them not to assist the rail advocates in Pinellas County by voting yes on a deceptive tax increase bill!
Tell them PSTA needs to cut their budget, not generate a new treasury to expand government jobs, pensions with a train!
This is all about qualifying for federal rail seed money that will prove to be an economic drag in perpetuity because like Hotel California,
Once you check-in, you can never check-out!
Stress.....This is not revenue Neutral! There is no parity!
If passed, this will allow a 1% tax increase referendum in 2013 to be disguised and sold to the public as a Tax Swap !