Your specialty license plate money may not go where you think

Author: Noah Pransky , WTSP
Photo via WTSP

The Sunshine State may as well be called the License Plate State, for the 123 different options when it comes to specialty tags – with more likely on the way this year.

That extra $20 to $30 you spend each year for that piece of pride generally helps the cause you’re cheerleading – nature, universities, and nonprofits – but the money doesn’t always go where you might expect.

The top-selling plate in the state, the University of Florida, goes to help fund educational programs at the school. And the second-most-popular plate, sea turtles, helps fund the turtle programs through the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. And the state’s No. 3 plate, FSU, also funds programs at the university.

However, you probably didn’t know the No. 4 plate in the state, Endless Summer, puts most of its money not toward beach preservation, but instead goes to the Surfing Evolution & Preservation Foundation, which is trying to build a new surfing “experience” museum in Cocoa Beach.

10Investigates also exposed in 2012 how the “In God We Trust” plate wasn’t helping out the families of fallen first-responders and members of the military, as it had promised to. After the series aired, the state forced the executives behind the plate to turn the non-profit over to new directors.

Sports teams are also very popular, from the Miami Heat (10th in state) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13th) to the Florida Panthers (91st). But those funds don’t go to the teams directly; they go to state funds that help pay for pro stadiums, gold and fishing interests, as well as amateur sporting events.

Florida lawmakers are also currently discussing new plates for the Orlando City Soccer Club, the Florida Caribbean Charitable Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and even a Ronald Reagan specialty plate. New tags have two years to reach 1,000 plates sold annually, or else the state revokes the design for lack of interest. Colleges are the only exception to the minimum rule.

Some legislators are also pushing for the University of Central Florida tag to read “National Champions” in honor of the team’s undefeated 2017 football season, which resulted in a No. 5 final national ranking.

Photos via WTSP
Photos via WTSP

*This story was originally posted on WTSP

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