Business groups boost All for Transportation in Florida Supreme Court

The Tampa Bay Partnership, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. filed a brief in the Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee.
The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Oct. 22, 2019|Updated Oct. 22, 2019

TAMPA — Hillsborough’s three leading economic development groups on Tuesday filed an amicus brief in the Florida Supreme Court opposing efforts to overturn the All for Transportation one-cent sales tax that 57 percent of county voters approved in 2018.

The brief was filed by the Tampa Bay Partnership, a nonprofit multi-county organization that brings top local chief executive officers together to focus on big issues like developing workforce talent, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., a government-supported nonprofit that works to recruit new businesses and help existing ones grow.

“Building a robust transportation system that connects Tampa Bay is key to creating opportunities for our residents, and providing talent for our region’s employers,” Tampa Bay Partnership president and chief executive officer Rick Homans said in an announcement of the brief. “We were proud to be a founding contributor to the referendum campaign earlier this year. ... The voters have spoken loud and clear. We appeal to the justices to close the book on this case and affirm the will of the people.”

The Supreme Court is considering challenges to the tax filed by Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White and Hillsborough resident Bob Emerson. A Hillsborough circuit judge upheld the law while also striking parts of it. In addition to the local opponents, lawyers for the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate have weighed in against the tax in the Supreme Court case.

RELATED: Florida Supreme Court to decide future of Hillsborough’s transportation tax

“This court should follow the will of the people (and) reverse the trial court," the group’s brief says, calling the measure “a valid exercise of charter county home rule” that is not preempted by state law.

The tax is expected to raise more than $280 million a year for transit, bike, pedestrian and road projects around Hillsborough County.

“Our transportation issues directly affect our economic competitiveness and influence companies’ decisions to relocate or expand here," economic development corporation president and chief executive officer Craig Richard said in a statement. "Securing the All for Transportation tax revenue will help us to address some of our longstanding transportation challenges and keep our economy moving forward.”

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Feb. 5 in Tallahassee.