Some Florida drivers and even winter snowbirds will see their toll bills cut by 50% next year after the House voted unanimously to pass a government-sponsored reduction plan. Ron DeSantis.
SB 6A authorize the Florida Turnpike Enterprise (AND P) to implement the toll relief program for drivers who make 35 transactions per month on their SunPass or other transponders.
The measure allocates $500 million to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Trust Fund to achieve this goal. The House vote on Wednesday afternoon followed a 38-0 Florida Senate vote on Tuesday to pass the measure.
Before passing the bill, House Democrats tried unsuccessfully to amend the measure to ensure that no names of Florida politicians could be used in the marketing campaign to promote the discounts. More than $40 million could be made available to FDOT to advertise the program.
representing Driskell Fence argued during the floor debate on Wednesday that the full $500 million should be spent on reducing toll costs for drivers, noting that there is already money in the FDOT budget to advertise the further reductions. But if the state did not require the money to be spent in full on rebates, Driskell said the amendment was necessary.
“I think we have to make sure it can’t be used to prop up politicians,” she said. “And I think we’ve seen that too often. I’ve seen it all over the state and I don’t want it to happen here with our hard-earned taxpayers’ money.
The amendment failed in a voice vote.
The chamber did not consider another amendment that Rep. Jennifer “Rita” Harris wanted to offer, with the decision of Republican leaders, he expanded the scope of the bill. The Orlando Democrat said she wants residents who ride public transit 35 times a month to also benefit from the $500 million injection of general revenue.
She noted that many of the constituents she represents work at Florida theme parks and don’t drive to work. “I just wish we could have done more to help our working-class voters by offering the same kind of discounts to our voters and people hanging out on the bus or train,” she said.
“In my neighborhood, where I live, a lot of people work in amusement parks. They work at the tourist center which maintains this state. They are the economical fuel for our engine, so I was hoping we would be able to give them a little cushion as well. So I look forward to working together on ways to do that in the future.
As adopted, SB 6A authorizes the FTE to establish the program effective January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2023, for all Florida toll facilities that use a Florida-issued transponder or are interoperable with the SunPass system . There are no residency requirements for SunPass, meaning the discounts will also apply to snowbirds as long as they meet the minimum number of trips.
Rebates are for transponders that accumulate 35 or more transactions per calendar month. Rebates are 50% of the amount paid for qualifying transactions.
A “Qualifying Transaction” is a transponder-based pay toll transaction incurred by a two-axle vehicle for travel on a Florida toll facility using a Florida-issued transponder linked to a qualifying account. Account credit must be posted to the eligible account within one month of obtaining the credit.
Florida toll facilities included in SunPass Savings program, according to a SB 6A staff analysisinclude Turnpike Mainline (SR 91/SR 821), Sawgrass Expressway (SR 869), Alligator Alley, Polk Parkway (SR 570), Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Interstate 4 Connector, Veterans Expressway (SR 589), Suncoast Parkway (SR 589), Beachline East (SR 528) MP 0-8, Beachline West (SR 528) MP 31-46, Western Beltway (SR 429) MP 0-11, Southern Connector Extension (SR 417) MP 0-3, Seminole Expressway (SR 417) MP 38-55 A/B, Wekiva Parkway (SR 429) Mount Plymouth Rd to SR 46, First Coast Expressway (SR 23), Garcon Point Bridge, Pinellas Bayway and expressways.
SB 6A also builds on a proposal DeSantis announced last August called “SunPass Savings.” Under this plan, customers with two-axle vehicles receive a 20% credit to their SunPass account if they have completed at least 40 paid toll transactions in a month, or a 25% credit on their SunPass account if they have made at least 80 paid toll transactions. .
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