Fla. Car Rental Fee Gains Approval from House

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --- As part of a transportation-funding plan, The Florida House of Representatives approved legislation that would add a $2 surcharge to car rentals in three counties in the Sunshine State.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties now have the option of tacking on the fee, though voters would actually have ratify the tax, according to the Sun-Sentinel. If the tax passes the state Senate and gets support from Gov. Jeb Bush, a referendum could be held later in the year.

The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, to which the potential revenue would be directed, looks to gain about $48 million a year from the surcharge. However, that figure doesn’t account for neighborhood locations and is only an estimate based on airport rentals.

That rental revenue, according to the report, could be used as leverage to garner federal matching money. The two revenue streams would help pay for mass-transit projects in the area.

To better their chances for approval, supporters of the SRTA teamed up with Central Florida Republicans who endorsed the fee increase to answer some of their own transportation problems.

Even with a great deal of support from that party, the tax has been a divisive issue among party members, many of whom feel wearing the label "surcharge' is a guise for "tax increase."

"Don't be fooled [into believing] that this is not a tax increase," one representative told the newspaper. Still other members of the House feel the tax might damage weaken the state’s ever-important tourism industry.

The tax has been included in a larger transportation bill, a strategy that may help the matter win approval from Gov. Bush later this year.

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