Expressway Authority bill up on Thursday

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A bill slated to be heard Thursday on the Senate floor would shift the toll collecting authority of the expressway authorities in the Tampa Bay area and Orlando to the state Turnpike Enterprise, reports the News Service of Florida. Under the bill the expressway authorities are supposed to retain nominal control, and money is supposed to be appropriated by the state Legislature to go back to the two areas to pay for road upkeep, but budget authority will go into the state budget. The measure also prohibits any employee of the expressway authorities from being paid more than the executive director of the Turnpike Enterprise. The bill (SB 1998), which was written by the Senate Budget Committee, is expected to be very controversial, with a number of representatives of the two areas opposing it, saying local governments should maintain completely the current amount of control they have over their local expressway authorities. The measure also limits the agencies’ ability to issue bonds to pay for new road projects. The plan has a sweetener for those who argue for more road construction, too. The measure changes the distribution of certain fees or parts of fees – including part of the motor vehicle license tax – putting more of it into the state Transportation Trust Fund instead of the general fund, which has been filled in recent years by money siphoned from the transportation account.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.