The Miami Dolphins managed to gain support from Miami-Dade County politicians for stadium renovations despite the lingering sour taste about the Marlins’ ballpark deal that got the mayor recalled.
Winning a favorable vote from state legislators for a sales tax rebate and tourist tax increase will be more challenging. Once again, timing is not on the Dolphins’ side.
They will be making their pitch in the upcoming legislative session during a time that Republican governors in several states are pushing for greater reliance on state sales taxes than personal income tax for operating revenue.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is leading the charge to repeal his state’s personal and corporate income taxes and compensate with higher sales taxes. Similar debates are taking place in Nebraska and Kansas, and the approach of taxation on consumption rather than income has become a conservative agenda nationwide.
That is, of course, already the status quo in Florida where there is no state income tax. Now the Dolphins are asking a Republican-controlled legislature in Tallahassee that lately has not been receptive to helping out pro sports teams for a significant chunk of sales tax money.
A bill introduced after the Dolphins announced their renovation plans for Sun Life Stadium would net $3 million a year through a tax rebate for a sports team undertaking at least $250 million in improvements, provided the team owner will pay at least 50 percent of the cost. Dolphins owner Steve Ross has vowed to pay more than half of the project expected to cost up to $400 million.
Granted the rebate would come from sales of goods and services at Sun Life Stadium. But gaining support with law-makers outside South Florida in a cash-strapped state that relies on all the sales-tax revenue it can grab may prove as problematic for the Dolphins as trying to build a Super Bowl-contending team.
The proposed legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens) and Rep. Eduardo Gonzalez (R-Hialeah). To track the status of the companion bills, click on HB-165 and SB-306.