Florida lawmakers have approved a plan that would steer state tax dollars to fund stadiums for privately-owned sports teams. The move is a reversal from last year, when stadium funding for the Miami Dolphins died on the last day of session.
This year’s sports funding bill calls for most of the teams seeking state money to get in line. The Department of Economic Opportunity will be in charge of vetting each project based on its estimated economic impact. But some projects like new soccer stadiums in Miami and Orlando, and upgrades to the Daytona Speedway-- could get in the express lane and split $7 million this year because those projects are currently underway. But letting those teams skip the line doesn’t sit well with some lawmakers.
“It’s no longer a process, it’s a handout. This summer, the LBC will meet and they’ll commit $6 million over the next 30 years," says Miami Republican Representative Carlos Trujillo. "So it's $180 million in taxpayer money you’re giving away to for-profit, billion-dollar businesses.”
A legislative budget panel or LBC -- would be responsible for doling out the cash for the special projects. Florida already gives tax breaks to most of its major league sports franchises. The will compete for $13 million each year for repairs or construction. The bill goes to Governor Rick Scott.