Every few years, the Arizona Legislature works out legislation to extend the Prop. 400 public transportation tax. The half-cent tax, which started in 1985 to pay for roads but now also includes public transit and light rail in Maricopa County, faces strong opposition every time it comes up for renewal. Although the legislature mostly ended its 2023 session on June 30 after finalizing the budget, it is reconvening briefly next week to consider the extension.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) has issued multiple reports critical of renewing what it refers to as the Maricopa Association of Governments’ (MAG) “transit slush fund package.” AFEC observed in June that The Arizona Republic has been running numerous articles praising the renewal, which are “nothing more than recycled talking points from MAG and transit industry lobbyists attacking conservative lawmakers and critics (like the Club) for opposing a plan that slashes freeway funding and increases traffic congestion in the region.”
The legislature reconvenes on Monday to hash out the legislation. The proposed extension would last 20 years. The current extension expires in 2025. Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill that Republicans agreed upon in June, which would have sent the sales tax extension to voters. She has been negotiating directly with the legislature on it.
AFEC noted The Republic accused Republicans of refusing to accept a “compromise plan” that made over 30 concessions, including reductions in light rail spending. However, “their compromise plan is no different than the plan vetoed by Governor Ducey last year.” The concession of taking light rail funding out of the plan “just shifts bus expenditures from municipalities to the regional tax, which then frees up city money to pay for the rail.”
Read the rest of the article at The Arizona Sun Times