A last minute Senate amendment tucked into this year’s tax package redirects millions of new dollars to support Moffitt Cancer Center, and the House is OK with that.
The Senate passed the tax package (HB 7061) unanimously Friday morning, sending the matter back to the House with its suggestions, including one amendment that would increase the cancer center’s share of the state cigarette tax. The House subsequently accepted the amendment, sending the overall package to the Governor’s desk.
The amendment mirrors legislation (SB 866) filed by Clearwater Republican Sen. Ed Hooper. While the Senate bill cleared the upper chamber during Session, it remained stagnant in the House. So, in a last-ditch effort to up the money flow to the Tampa-based facility, the Senate tacked on the amendment in tax package negotiations.
Under the current system, Moffitt receives about $15.6 million a year. The amendment, however, increases Moffitt’s share of the cigarette tax from 4.4% to 7% for the next three years, and 10% after that, through 2054. The extra money without the amendment, would go to the state’s general revenue fund.
The increase, if blessed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, will allow 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 will help fund Moffitt’s planned expansion, a comprehensive new cancer research and treatment center on 800 acres it recently acquired.
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.
The bill received praise from lawmakers as it flowed through its Senate committees, especially from Tampa Bay legislators.
“I’ll say it again, but you know Moffitt Cancer Center is one of the few fights that I’m willing to engage in here in the legislature and, you know, I really do believe that Moffitt is an unsung hero,” Sen. Janet Cruz said at one committee stop. “We need to show more love to Moffitt Cancer Center. It is a world class facility and I’m very proud that it’s in our town.”
Moffitt is the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.