Diversifying tourism tax use could help Orlando veterans get to medical appointments

If you want to make the powerful in Orlando uncomfortable, it only takes one phrase.

“Let’s diversify TDT use!”

TDT is the Tourism Development Tax. It’s revenue we take in for hotel night stays and it’s very lucrative. Right now we have an outdated restriction saying we can only spend it on other tourism related projects.

Even though Orlando has no affordable housing and ranks among the worst for pedestrian safety.

That’s the way tourism and hospitality executives want it. When they’re using TDT dollars for projects, they can use their own organization’s money for their bonuses. They don’t have to come out of pocket for things they should be paying for.

It’s all about other people’s money.

Last time we checked big tourism was doing very well in Orlando. Well enough that they can keep raising ticket prices on visitors.

But we have other needs in our community more important than bonuses. We have veterans that can’t get to medical appointments. And some of them can’t get to work. Ironically, some work at the theme parks.

If you live in Apopka or Pine Hills, getting to the Lake Nona VA center will take you all day. And morning appointments? Those are out of the question. Last week I called the VA twice and couldn’t event get them on the phone.

Supporters of TDT want to raise sales taxes on veterans. And they want to to do it without any details on how that increase could help us. “Pass it and we’ll figure it out later.” That’s not good enough.

The smarter solution is HB 6075 which has been filed by Orlando State Representative Anna Eskamani. The newspaper just did a write-up on it that explains the legislation perfectly (story HERE).

Let’s open up these funds. The solution is right there in front of us.

We just need those who are exploiting TDT to finally right this wrong and start allowing the people fueling the tourism tax a fair chance at a better life here in Orlando.

And that certainly includes Orlando veterans.

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