Rep. Jeff Brandes makes the case against the tax swap for light rail in Pinellas

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The following is a letter-to-the-editor from Rep. Jeff Brandes:

I agree with the governor’s veto of HB 865 and the (Times) editorial when it said, “The Pinellas transit project can proceed without the legislation that Scott vetoed.” I also have faith in Pinellas County voters, faith that they will choose to reject a higher sales tax for transit projects like light rail. HB 865 was political sleight of hand that would have robbed the voters from seeing all their options. Maybe they want to keep the ad valorem tax and impose the highest sales tax in the state to pay for light rail. I know I don’t, and I bet a majority of voters don’t, either.

The governor’s veto doesn’t “sidetrack” Pinellas’ transit plans. On the contrary, voters now have the maximum amount of options. If the proponents of higher tax revenues for transit projects like light rail truly believe voters support their cause, then let’s indeed put it to a vote. I assure you, I will be there fighting it every step of the way.

Improved public transportation should be executed with these principles in mind. First, a comprehensive business plan should be drafted that clearly defines the market, costs and goals. Second, any plan should be about filling a need in the marketplace and where possible the PSTA should look for the private sector to provide this service first. Finally, the plan should be carried out as a self-sustaining model that does not require ever-increasing subsidies to implement.

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.