Orange County residents strike down 1% transportation sales tax

Orange County voters shot down a proposed 1% increase in sales tax to fund transportation throughout the county on Tuesday.

The tax hike was boosted by supporters as a necessary corrective to Orange County's rapid growth and ever-more-common traffic snarls. The tax hike would bring in an estimated $600 million per year to further fund the expansion of SunRail and Lynx systems. The money would also be used for road expansions and bike path projects.

Opponents balked at the idea of raising a tax on Orange County residents in the midst of ongoing inflation.

"High gas prices, rising rent, rising interest rates and this 1% tax is a penny too many," Brian Henley of advocacy group Ax The Tax told WESH.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has been the face of the tax hike, stumping for the increase in the months since he Orange County Commission approved it for Tuesday's ballot. Demings has noted that Orange County is set to take over control of SunRail from the state in coming years and the money is necessary to keep the public transit agency solvent. Demings has pushed the tax as far back as 2019, calling it an “ economic driver that will create jobs, opportunities and connectivity."

The proposed tax's revenues [will be/would have been] split between bus and rail (45%), road improvements (45%) and municipal transportation projects (10%). The plan failed with nearly 60% of voters deciding against it. 


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