Budget conference: House, Senate zoom ahead with boost to Daytona 500, gas tax cut
Jay Trumbull and Kelli Stargel. Image via Colin Hackley.

“Our goal was to make sure that Floridians were able to have as much access to the $200 million (gas tax) reduction."

In a last-second finish, House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to insert a provision giving an estimated $6 million tax break for the Daytona 500 into the large tax cut bill.

The tax cut bill also contains sales tax holidays for a variety of items, including a one-month moratorium on the state’s 25-cent gas tax, starting Oct. 1, which is estimated to save drivers $200 million. The move partially accommodates Gov. Ron DeSantis’ original request for a $1 billion, five-month moratorium starting July 1.

Top House budget writer Rep. Jay Trumbull, a Panama City Republican, said the start date was picked because October is the month Florida has the least number of tourists. Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican, and other legislative leaders had expressed skepticism over DeSantis’ plan, preferring to target Floridians for tax relief.

“Our goal was to make sure that Floridians were able to have as much access to the $200 million reduction,” Trumbull.

The $200 million gas tax revenue, which goes to pay for road projects, will be supplanted with federal COVID-19 stimulus funding.

The final agreement on the tax cut package, HB 7071, will cost the state and save some consumers and property owners more than $650 million. It includes what the House originally passed on March 2 — a hodgepodge of sales tax holidays along with breaks for certain property owners — along with changes preferred by the Senate to alter what qualifies under those sales tax breaks.

For instance, the sales tax holidays for back-to-school items (July 25 to Aug.7), hurricane preparedness items (May 28 – Jun. 10), cultural event tickets (July 1-7) and skilled worker tools (Sept. 3-9) won’t apply to items bought within theme parks.

There’s also a two-year break for impact-resistant windows, doors and garage doors; one-year exemptions on diapers and clothing for infants and toddlers; a one-year exemption on ENERGY STAR appliances; a three-month exemption this summer on children’s books, and a reduction in the mobile home tax rate from 6% to 3%.

Tickets for Formula One races and World Cup qualification matches also will be exempted from sales taxes.

Properties in and around the site of the collapse of the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside also will receive a property tax abatement.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill in the final days of the Session, which was set to end Friday but will likely be extended to Monday, because the constitution requires a 72-hour “cooling off” period before lawmakers can vote on the budget.

Gray Rohrer


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