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Miami-Dade Higher Ed Tax Approved

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/News Service of Florida) – Voters will have an opportunity to decide whether a sales tax increase should be allowed.

The measure would give Miami-Dade County the authority to increase its sales tax by half a percentage point to help fund higher-education projects.

It was approved by a House committee Thursday despite concerns among some conservative lawmakers about a tax hike.

The proposal (HB 113), which passed the House Finance and Tax Subcommittee on a 13-4 vote, would require Miami-Dade voters to approve any increase in the sales tax before it took effect.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, would raise $224 million a year. Opponents questioned both the increase and the fact that colleges in the county — Miami-Dade College and Florida International University are located there — would be getting special treatment.

But supporters stressed that voters would have to give the go-ahead for the tax to take effect. “In fact, I can’t think of a better way to figure out when people should be taxed and not be taxed rather than direct democracy,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs.

Members of the Miami-Dade delegation on the panel split their voters, with Democratic Reps. David Richardson and Jose Javier Rodriguez supporting the measure and GOP Reps. Michael Bileca and Carlos Trujillo opposing it.

The bill has two more committee stops in the House; a Senate counterpart (SB 66) hasn’t been heard during the 2013 session, the proposal received a 37-1 vote in the Senate, but failed to reach the House floor.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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