A plan to give Florida drivers up to $500 a year in credits for the frequent use of a SunPspanss or E-PASS to pay tolls cruised through its first committee meeting.
Sen. Nick DiCeglie, R-St. Petersburg and Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, R-Miami-Dade, want lawmakers to set aside $500 million to provide the credits to frequent commuters – those who pass through at least one toll station 35 times a month.
The SB 6A was included in a package of legislation released Friday for this week’s special session to shore up a property insurance market in free fall and to provide tax relief to homeowners affected by Hurricane Ian.
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DiCeglie told the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee Monday, he wrote the toll bill with workers and students in mind who pay tolls going to and coming home from work and school.
He said, like the insurance and hurricane proposals, it is a tool to help Floridians fight inflation by reducing the cost of living for workers and students.
“These are folks that are working five, six days a week. Anytime that we can help them save money, especially with these inflationary pressures that we have, I think it’s good public policy,” said DiCeglie when he presented SB 6A to the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.
The proposal provides a 50% credit for the next month’s SunPass and E-PASS bill – which typically cost about $360 annually with an additional monthly transponder charge.
All state toll facilities that use state-issued transponders or that are hooked into the Florida Department of Transportation prepaid electronic transponder toll system would be included – including private roads like the Orchard Pond Parkway, an east-west connector in north Leon County.
The program would be in effect through February 2024.
Florida has 720 miles of toll roads. The cost to access them range from 7 cents a mile to $1.07.
Three of those roads, the Florida Turnpike, the Central Florida Expressway, and the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway generated more than $1.8 billion in tolls last year, according to DOT.
A legislative analysis finds that more than 750,000 Floridians have a SunPass or E-PASS account, and DiCeglie, said with a budget surplus of more $17 billion, Florida can afford to give these drivers a break on tolls.