Why the Senate president voted against the stadium dealby Dara Kam | April 29th, 2013
As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross peered down into the chamber from the public gallery late this afternoon, Senate President Don Gaetz pushed the red button rejecting a deal that could steer taxpayer money to refurbish the stadium.
Gaetz, a Niceville Republican, said he voted against the bill (SB 306) “because I have to go home to Northwest Florida.”
The deal signed off on by the Senate on Monday did not include a provision in an earlier version of the bill that would have eliminated a tax break for foreign banks in exchange for the professional sports franchises tax incentive.
That was “one of the better things about the arrangement,” Gaetz said.
Even that would not likely have coaxed a favorable vote, however, Gaetz told reporters.
While the bill is “a whole lot better” in other ways, Gaetz still doesn’t like the idea that there’s nothing in it that offsets the cost to the state for what could be millions of dollars – up to $13 million a year – in tax breaks.
The Department of Economic Opportunity would have to rank the teams and give the recommendations to the Legislature, who would have the ultimate say, meaning “they’re not being handed out on the basis of who had the best lobbyist,” Gaetz said.
But he said that without swapping the tax break on foreign banks there isn’t “a way to actually pay for the tax incentives. And I wish there would have been.”