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Taxes raised from the now-defunct Hillsborough transportation referendum may finally be spent

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The state legislature can now decide how millions of dollars collected from a now-defunct Hillsborough County transportation tax will be spent. The decision falls to lawmakers after a judge dismissed a class action suit.

Pending an appeal, the state legislature could decide how to allocate taxes raised by now-defunct Hillsborough county transportation referendum.

The state legislature can now decide how millions of dollars collected from a now-defunct Hillsborough County transportation tax will be spent. The decision falls to lawmakers after a judge dismissed a class action suit on Wednesday.

The lawsuit sought to return $570 million raised by a 2018 transportation tax to taxpayers. The Florida Supreme Court had voided the tax in 2021.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp said the legislature is ready to take action during the coming session and has asked commissioners for a list of items they want to fund.

"Hopefully that money will be spent as it was allocated by voters to do, for transportation projects inside Hillsborough County" Kemp said.

In 2018, Hillsborough County voters approved a 1% sales tax for transportation. But, in 2021, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the referendum invalid. The money raised before the high court ruling is at issue.

With the dismissal of the class-action suit, Kemp said the legislature can now determine how to allocate the money during the coming session.

"So we are not allowed to just expend it. And it will be the legislature or the courts who decide how the allocation goes," Kemp said.

The dismissed class-action lawsuit can be appealed in the next 30 days.

I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.