A bill that would send millions of additional dollars each year to Moffitt Cancer Center flew through its second committee Thursday morning.
The proposal (SB 866), sponsored by Clearwater Republican Sen. Ed Hooper, passed unanimously in the Senate Finance and Tax Committee. The legislation would increase the Tampa center’s share of a state cigarette tax.
Under the current system, Moffitt receives about $15.6 million a year. The bill would increases Moffitt’s share of the cigarette tax from 4.4% to 7% for the next three years, and 10% after that. The money would otherwise go to the state’s general revenue fund.
If passed, the increase would lead the center to receive an estimated $26.9 million next fiscal year and $38.4 million in the 2024-2025 fiscal year.
The additional funding would help fund Moffitt’s planned expansion, with plans to build a comprehensive cancer research and treatment center on 800 acres it recently acquired.
“I can personally attest to the value of Moffitt Cancer Center,” said Stuart Sen. Gayle Harrell at the meeting. “I’ve had many constituents and family members go there, and they do an amazing job. I know they have totally run out of room, and the expansion of the Moffitt Cancer Cancer Center serves the entire state, not just the western side of Florida. So I think this is a major endeavor and I’m very much in support of this.”
The demand for cancer care increases every year. Moffitt currently serves more than 68,000 individual patients annually and that number is expected to surpass 100,000 annually by 2026, Hooper said at the bill’s first committee hearing, where it was also cleared unanimously.
Moffitt is the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“I worry that every year, I feel as if Moffitt is always nervous about their funding and I feel like they’re under-appreciated for this incredible work that they do in our community — and it serves not just Tampa but the state, the country and around the world,” Tampa Sen. Janet Cruz said at the meeting.