By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
House & Senate pass budgets $1b apart: The Florida House and Senate each passed their budgets this week, but a $1 billion gap in spending is just part of the differences between the two houses. The House has a $350 million tax cut, including cutting the commercial lease sales tax. But that cut grows to $1 billion in the following years. The Senate has proposed more money for public schools, reducing the local property tax share for education. The Senate backed Governor Scott’s $250 million economic development package, but the House did not.
US set to allow airline flights to Cuba: In the latest move for US-Cuban relations, the US will sign an agreement next week allowing up to 30 flights daily to Cuba, 20 of which would be to Havana. Flights would likely begin in the fall and be the first scheduled airline flights in 50 years between the US and Cuba. American Airlines is looking at serving Cuba from their Miami hub, and United is targeting flights from their hubs in Newark and Houston. Tampa may not be in the first round of airports to serve Cuba flights.
How do you pay for fixing all forms of transportation? That’s the question being asked by the Hillsborough County Commission, and regional leaders. While Orlando and Miami move to leverage transit to create economic development, regional elected officials came up with a list of priority projects that are several years, if not decades, in the future.
Paying for the basics is the immediate need for Hillsborough. Mobility fees are being looked at as a likely source of transportation funding, but would only generate about $10 million in each of the first ten years; about half of the County’s yearly paving budget. Passing a half-cent sales tax would have a much greater impact on road funding, but possibly at the detriment of improved transit.
Pearls of Wisdom: The first Pearls of Wisdom of 2016 will focus on how the Hillsborough Commission on the Status of Women enacts change on issues affecting women’s rights. These issues include discrimination, pay equality, and women’s health. Join panelists Kimberlee DeBosier, Yvonne Fry, and Susan Leisner on Tuesday, March 1 at Mise en Place, 4:30-6:00pm. Check out the event page for more information.