Jeff Vinik Tax Just Doesn’t Add Up




By Jim Davison, Contributor

The 1% Jeff Vinik-inspired sales tax increase propaganda machine is up and running. The misinformation campaign has started. 

The director of the Hillsborough County MPO, Beth Alden, told the Tampa City Council what the 1% sales tax would pay for in the MPO 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan. She stated that the petition would increase the sales tax 1% for 30 years, then proceeded to read off a list of items in the 2040 plan as if they were 100% in sync.

It is true that both the 2040 MPO Plan and the Petition on the ballot in November are based on a 30-year, 1% sales tax hike, but the resemblance stops there. 

The differences are so glaring that it calls into question Alden’s motives. Could it be because the Vinik Tax overfunds the MPO for research and planning by $74 million dollars?  That’s quite a payoff!

That’s plenty of incentive for omissions.  There were plenty of ‘em.  Alden failed:

—to present any math comparisons to the MPO board or the Tampa City Council. 

—to mention the amount of money the MPO stated a 1% sales tax would raise. 

—to state if the funding categories in the MPO 2040 plan were funded to the same amount from the funding restrictions placed in the Sales Tax Petition. 

—to disclose what the “real” congestion relief will be with the tax. 

—to explain what the CO2 emissions will be.

Alden did exactly what her All For Transportation puppet masters wanted: provide propaganda to sell the petition. Would she say the same things in court, on the stand and under oath?  We believe she would recant rather than perjure herself.

The current 2040 MPO transportation plan is based on a 1% sales tax, but extends only 22 years. In those 22 years the 1% Sales Tax raises $9 billion according to the MPO and County Administrator Mike Merrill. 

Let’s do some math.  All For Transportation and their supporters state it raises $280 million per year, period. The years 2019 to 2040 cover 22 years and 22 x 280= $6.16 billion just under $3 billion short of the MPO 2040 plan.

But why quibble over $3 billion dollars?  Even using the $9 billion dollars the MPO states a 1% sales tax raises in 22 years, the AFT plan underfinances roads while overfinancing transit and MPO planning and development.

The first three subsections of the petition, 11.07 (1)(2)(3) are under financed by $69 million dollars. These sections deal with intersection improvement and flow, road vulnerability to disasters, maintenance of roads, and “congestion reduction.”  It would be illegal if any of these funds are used for new roads or widening roads unless they are fully funded which they are not. 

The fourth general purpose area for non-transit expenses, 11.07(4) Transportation Network Improvements states “ at least 12% of General Purpose Funds shall be extended on bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure and related improvements that make walking and biking safer”. This Section 11.07(4) is the only overfunded part of the General Purpose non-transit funds and is over funded by $259.85 million dollars.

Yes, bicycles and pedestrian improvements are over funded by $259 million. There are millions of dollars in possible bicycle and pedestrian improvements above the MPO 2040 Level 3 new funding, but this increases the funding by 80%.

There are billions of dollars in needed road widening and new roads not funded in the MPO 2040 plan.

The last sec 11.07(5) is titled “Remaining Funds” and may be spent on “any project to improve transportation”. Although road widening and new roads are never mentioned, this is the section that AFT members point to as being able to fund the “New Road Capacity” in the MPO 2040 plan. The 1% Sales Tax Petition Plan underfunds this category about $242 million dollars depending on the complete financing of a couple roads. 

Not a single penny of the tax goes to new roads or road widening in the county south of Bloomingdale Ave. If you live south of Bloomingdale Ave., you will pay the tax but not a penny goes to road widening or new roads. Because they underfunded “NEW ROAD CAPACITY” by so much, the MPO will need to eliminate 25% of the roads on the present 2040 plan and some roads to be built in South county by developer/mobility fee funding.

The transit portion of the 1% Sales Tax Petition overfunds the 3 transit sections. Yes, the All for Transportation 1% sales tax funding percentages overfund the transit portion by $600 million. The road capacity, new and widened, are underfunded by $242 million. 

The only thing that decreases the non-transit total portion deficit is the massive funding for bicycles and pedestrians.

The MPO section of the petition overfunds the MPO for research and planning by $74 million dollars.

These are the numbers that can be validated on a cell phone calculator.  Alden must have left her phone at home the day she presented to the Tampa City Council. This misinformation campaign will be promoted by All for Transportation and the Tampa Bay Times for the next two months.

 “The Great Rail Robbery” will be a financial debacle. 

The congestion, environmental problems, displacement of minority communities, and quality of life issues with this Vinik Tax Plan will soon be made available to all voters but the bribed mainstream media won’t be the ones to present the real facts.

Voters need to confront elected officials and candidates over the next two months.  The electorate should demand these politicos take a stand against this crime.

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