The Florida Public Transportation Association welcomes former state Senator James T. (Jim) Hargrett, Jr., into our Hall of Fame. In 1990, while Chairing the House of Representatives Committee on Public Transportation, then Representative Hargrett was instrumental in Florida’s transit systems attaining one of its greatest legislative triumphs – State Operating Assistance.
Jim Hargrett was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1982, and served in the House until 1992. He then ran, and was elected to the Florida Senate, in which he served until 2000. During that time Jim Hargrett was a dominant force in matters of transportation, and was particularly sensitive and supportive of public transit.
He chaired the Senate Committee on Transportation in 1996 – 1998 during which he supported many public transit issues. However, it was during his term in the House in the 1990 Session for which we particularly recognize him. In 1988 Rep. Tom Gustafson, another member of our Hall of Fame, became Speaker of the Florida House. In an unprecedented action, he created a separate Committee on Public Transportation, and appointed a champion of public transit, Rep. Hargrett, as its Chair.
In 1990 the opportunity presented itself for Florida’s public transit systems to begin receiving some form of operating assistance. This was in the form of a broad initiative for a new motor fuel tax being considered by the Legislature. FPTA and its member transit systems pitched in mightily to ensure that transit would receive a portion of the new funding. But help was critical from the ‘inside’, and this was furnished by Speaker Gustafson and Chairman Hargett. By virtue of Speaker Gustafson’s appointment, Chairman Hargett, was able to be a part of the critical negotiating process.
Jim Hargrett, by virtue of his tenacity and negotiating skills, was instrumental in passing a new law creating the Transit Block Grant program, which provided no less than 14.7% of the DOT Trust Fund to be dedicated to public transportation, and eventually to increase to a floor of 15%. But just as importantly, longstanding provisions in the Florida Statutes that specifically precluded state operating assistance to public transit, were stricken.
It is for his long-term interest and support of public transportation during his distinguished legislative career from 1982 to 2000, and most especially, his behind the scenes work during the gas tax negotiations of 1990 that helped create the Transit Block Grant program, that we welcome former House Member, and Florida Senator, Mr. James T. Hargrett, to the Florida Public Transportation Association’s Hall of Fame – Class of 2007.