By Tom Rask, from the Tampa Bay Guardian
During a panel discussion yesterday, All For Transportation (AFT) President Tyler Hudson claimed that voters wanted only “some modicum of oversight” for the $16 billion sales tax increase he helped pass in Hillsborough County in 2018. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of “modicum” is “a small portion; a limited quantity.”
AFT’s tax hike effort to fund transit was largely funded by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, whose real estate interests will benefit financially to a large degree from the tax.
At the 2019 “Transit Initiatives and Communities Workshop” held at the Tampa Marriott, Hudson was discussing what his group had found that voters wanted. Hudson stated the following (video):
“The concerns that people had were really consistent across the board: safety, congestion relief, and some type of oversight, some modicum of oversight given the lack of faith in, really, elected officials, which will hopefully change.”
Hudson thus claimed that voters lacked faith in elected officials, and therefore wanted some kind of oversight, yet those voters only wanted a small amount of oversight.
The Guardian has previously reported on the so-called Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) that AFT promised voters. The legality of such an IOC is the subject of a lawsuit that will be heard by the Florida Supreme Court in early February.
Given Hudson’s comment about a “modicum of oversight”, perhaps “IOC” really stands for Ineffective Oversight Committee.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) arranged the conference-style workshop that Hudson spoke at. The conference is being held at the same time that the Federal Transit Administration released data showing that despite a 7.4% increase in federal, state and local subsidies by taxpayers nationwide in FY2018, transit ridership fell 2.1%.
The decline continues this year: transit ridership fell 1.6% nationwide in October 2019 as Uber, Lyft and similar companies increasingly replace old school transit. Bus ridership is now lower than it was in 1940 when the US population was less than half of what it is today.