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College sales tax proposal gains support

A bill that would allow Miami-Dade County to levy a half-penny sales tax to support two of South Florida’s biggest schools — Miami Dade College and Florida International University — is getting strong traction in the Florida Legislature, thanks to the lobbying of local lawmakers.

On Wednesday, the bill (HB 113) got the nod of another House committee. Three different committees have now approved the measure.

The bill’s next stop: the House floor for a vote.

“The state does not have the ability to keep up with the needs of students coming into Miami Dade College and Florida International University,” said state Rep. Erik Fresen, the Miami Republican who is sponsoring the bill. “This is a way to help them with construction, retrofitting and deferred maintenance.”

The sales tax would have to be approved by voters, and would last for only five years. It has the potential to raise as much as $224 million in annual revenue, according to a state policy analysis.

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