Put Steve Ross On Defense
State Representatives Michael Bileca and Carlos Trujillo wrote an Op Ed for the Herald that SDM missed. Fortunately, the Herald’s Marc Caputo reprinted the editorial on his blog. SDM excerpted an interesting section, which led us to the recommendation that follows the excerpt:
When the Florida House chose to defend South Florida taxpayers instead of forcing the issue onto the ballot, Ross decided to spend some of his personal fortune on dishonest political attack ads against us.
For many families, it’s a challenge to even attend a professional sporting event these days, let alone pay more in sales taxes for stadium renovations. Considering that the cost to attend a regular season Dolphins game for a family of four would cost $340 for tickets, parking, four hot dogs and soft drinks, it’s easy to understand why new subsidies for Ross’ business were unpopular with voters.
Furthermore, as the owner of Sun Life Stadium, he already collects $2 million in extra profits every year thanks to an annual sales tax subsidy given to the facility since the mid-1990s.
This year, Ross asked the Florida Legislature to boost that annual payment, which would have equaled a total of $90 million over 30 years with no strings attached. We do not hide from our strong and vocal position against this type of corporate welfare.
As elected representatives for the families of South Florida, our focus is, and will remain, protecting families’ hard-earned tax dollars and improving the quality of life in our state.
As fans of NFL football — especially the Miami Dolphins — we always want to see our team excel, but given the choice between providing funding for priorities important to middle-class families like public schools and transportation or raising taxes to subsidize the Miami Dolphins’ stadium renovations, we choose families. Ross is free to spend his personal fortune on political attack ads if he wishes, but if he instead invested some of his wealth on the stadium he owns, perhaps he wouldn’t have to try to bully South Florida families into giving him more of their hard-earned tax dollars.
Instead of playing defense against Ross, SDM recommends some actions to put him on the defensive:
- The $2 million subsidy is a long ago abandoned tax break given to the stadium so that it could house the Florida Marlins. Of course, the team is now the Miami Marlins and it is occupying a $3 billion white elephant in downtown. SDM’s Suggestion: Rescind the tax break and force Ross to sue the state to claim it. The stadium does not deserve a tax rebate for a nonexistent team.
- If you truly believe that the choice is between “providing funding for priorities important to middle-class families like public schools and transportation or raising taxes to subsidize” professional sports franchises, then here is SDM’s second suggestion: Amend the tourist development tax statutes (all of them) so that local governments can use the money for real local needs. SDM is sure the county commission has a couple ideas if you were to ask them.
SDM Says: Both Mr. Bileca and Mr. Trujillo profess a conservative Republican philosophy. Well, instead of blowing in the wind through an Op Ed, file some legislation and challenge Mr. Ross and the rest of his billionaire buddies to justify the use of finite tax dollars on privately controlled venues that most families cannot afford to enter.