- May 21, 2010
A referendum that would have raised Hillsborough County’s sales tax from 7.5% to 8.5% to fund transportation projects has once again come up short.
Promoted by All for Transportation, a nonprofit, citizen-led advocacy group, the measure failed to pass muster with voters in Tuesday's midterm elections. On its website, All for Transportation says the tax would have raised about $340 million in its first year alone, and that money could have addressed “a wide range of solutions to our county's greatest shortcoming — unsafe roads, endless traffic and lack of transit options.”
The initiative first surfaced in 2018, when voters approved it in that year’s midterm elections and its implementation raised millions of dollars, but a string of legal challenges led to it being declared unconstitutional. The 2022 version also wound up in the courts and wouldn’t have been on the ballot at all if not for a successful appeal by the Hillsborough County Commission.
“All for Transportation started with one simple mission — to give the residents of Hillsborough County a voice in the future of their community,” All for Transportation Chairman Tyler Hudson says in a statement issued on Tuesday when it became clear that the referendum had failed. “Voters used that voice in 2018 to resoundingly demand action and many worked tirelessly alongside us to keep fighting toward our common goal — a transportation system that is safe, reliable and equitable. We cannot say what is next for this fight, but our passion is not diminished. The prospects for a better transportation future are not defeated but only deferred.”
Despite transportation being one of the Tampa Bay region’s most vexing challenges, proposed tax increases to support solutions have been nonstarters. In 2010, Hillsborough County commissioners tried to win voter approval of a 1% tax increase to fund transportation improvements, including a light rail system. The measure was defeated 58% to 41%. Four years later, the Greenlight Pinellas plan asked voters to approve a 24-mile light rail route that would link St. Petersburg and Clearwater. That was soundly rejected, 62% to 38%.