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UPDATE: SunPass users to keep their discount

by Dara Kam | April 8th, 2011

SunPass users can breathe a sigh of relief. Senate President Mike Haridopolos said lawmakers won’t take away the discounts on toll roads, reversing what the Senate did yesterday.

“The discount stays. Period,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters during his weekly Q-and-A this morning.

The Senate had scrapped the SunPass discounts, which vary on different toll roads, as part of its plan to merge some of the state’s turnpike authorities.

Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, tried to amend the bill to keep the discounts intact but Haridopolos ruled on a voice vote that Norman’s amendment lacked the two-thirds majority to pass.

Critics said that doing away with the discounts could be considered a tax increase, a potential no-no for conservative Republicans, including U.S. Senate candidates like Haridopolos.

“That is something where there is a legitimate debate going on. Is that a discount or not? How will that be described?” Haridopolos.

Haridopolos said he told Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, who backed the proposal because it would add back about $100 million to the transportation budget that could be bonded to create up to $1 billion in road projects, it’s off the table.

Haridopolos changed his mind within 12 hours of the vote yesterday after talking with other senators and “after taking my opinion,” he said.

“As I got more engaged I thought the discount’s a good idea. I think it encourages people to purchase the pass, to use the pass and that helps with traffic flow across the state,” Haridopolos said.

Haridopolos said the debate could make SunPass buyers more aware that they get the discount and the ability to fly through toll plazas.

“I’ve let it be known that we will not be adjusting those. The discounts will stay in place. We think that especially as you commute across the state of Florida the best thing to do is to keep those discounts in place,” he said.

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21 Responses to “UPDATE: SunPass users to keep their discount”

  1. Educator Says:

    Guess they are getting scared.

  2. Concerned Citizen Says:

    I would have asked for a refund for the transponder that I purchased.

  3. Mr. B. Says:

    If the State needs money, just stop paying all the illegals welfare money and throw their kids out of our schools!

  4. MC Says:

    Amen! Mr. B

  5. Mark Says:

    Big win today. Thanks for staying on the right side of this one, Mike.

  6. UseYourBrain Says:

    Really Mr B?!?

    What happens to kids who get no education? They often wind up costing more in our penal system. Wouldn’t you rather produce a young adult that can contribute to society…and even pay taxes?

  7. George Says:

    It is not a tax, it is a user fee!!! If you don’t use it you don’t pay.

  8. papabear Says:

    George, that’s not here or there. Haridopolos promised no new taxes or higher fees. This is just him keeping that promise. And as one of those people who does have a SunPass, I do appreciate it.

  9. patty Says:

    Thanks so much……this was a shocker for me and coworkers but will be glade to let them know that it was overturned……thanks so much Mike H. for looking out for the little people

  10. get rid of the tolls all together Says:

    How about just get rid of the stupid tolls……..don’t you all tax us enough and the road can’t get any worst..

  11. nemo Says:

    This is great news, except, I can’t afford to drive very much because of gas prices. Oh well, as Black Barry says, “you better get used to gas at $4 a gallon”.

  12. whatever Says:

    As a state worker I won’t be traveling very much anyway so it matters neither here nor there. I’m sure Rick Scott will start forcing us to collect our salary on street corners by the end of his horrific term.

  13. Ahmed Says:

    Reduced rates means more use. If i-95 is parallel to turnpike most people would have opted for i-95, thus that road becomes more dangerous.

  14. RedFL Says:

    Whew. Those extra toll dollars would have been no fun. Thanks to the Senate for getting rid of that!

  15. Kelly Says:

    Very good. That $100 million was just gonna be used to borrow another $1 billion? Yeah, glad Mike put a stop to that. Very, very glad.

  16. FL Crzr Says:

    Don’t they realize they are getting prepaid money to work with? The use of the road is paid for before it is even driven on. They get the interest which is probably more than the discount costs them.

  17. reality check Says:

    When they first started building the Fla. Turnpike, I believe it was in the early 1960′s, they said that when construction was completed, the tolls would be dropped. I guess they will never complete construction.

  18. Reality Heck Says:

    They never said that. You can’t find one statement to that effect.

  19. Big Johnson Says:

    @Reality Check – The last time I looked there was still construction going on on the turnpike. So much for that idea.

  20. e.c. Says:

    Mr. B has the PERFECT solution to keeping more money in our State.
    Has anyone ever seen an “EDUCATED”
    Wetback ????
    They are un-educatable, the only thing they understand is
    “FREE MONEY” our hard earned taxpayer’s money.

  21. Big Johnson Says:

    @ e.c – My, my, they used to say the same thing about negroes. Mind if I copy Allen West on this thread?

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