Lawmakers’ Reaction To Passage Of Prop 400 Mixed

August 1, 2023

By Daniel Stefanksi |

Reaction was mixed to the news that the Arizona Legislature passed a Prop 400 compromise on Monday, after an agreement was forged with the Governor’s Office.

Republican Senate President Warren Petersen claimed victory after his chamber gave the proposal the green light, calling it “the most conservative transportation plan in our state’s history.” Petersen added, “The guardrails, taxpayer protections and funding allocations in the text of this bill reflect the priorities of voters, to reinvest their tax dollars in the transportation modes they use most.”

Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs was diplomatic in her statement, saying, “Today, bipartisan leaders invested in the future of Arizona families, businesses, and communities. The passage of the Prop 400 ballot measure will secure the economic future of our state and create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs for Arizonans. I am glad we were able to put politics aside and do what is right for Arizona.”

Some legislative Democrats took the legislation’s approval to point political fingers at their Republican counterparts. Senate Democratic Leader Mitzi Epstein wrote, “As is customary, Republicans have waited until the very last minute to pass widely popular legislation that invests in the daily lives of Arizonans….Our state should not have had to wait until July 31st to see this measure, which has had legislative support since the start of session, get sent to the ballot. However, with the support of Arizonans cities and towns, I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues in delivering the key votes needed to send the extension of the regional transportation tax back to the voters of Maricopa County.”

Members of the Arizona Freedom Caucus were adamantly opposed to the bill since the weekend, when they appeared to have read a draft of the legislation. After Prop 400 passed, the Freedom Caucus tweeted, “Legislative conservatives near unanimously opposed this horrible bill. Conservative watchdog groups unanimously opposed it. The bill may have been better than the communists at @MAGregion’s horrific plan, but that’s a ludicrously low bar for success. This bill was antithetical to conservatism.”

Freshman Republican Representative Austin Smith, who has become one of the leading voices in the Arizona Freedom Caucus this legislative session, was one of the most-outspoken members against the bill since the weekend. He explained his vote on Twitter, posting, “I voted NO on the prop 400 transporation excise tax for Maricopa County. Taxpayer dollars are not ours to dish out haphazardly – especially to the tune of 20 BILLION dollars with potential consequences that ruin valley transportation.”

Some legislative Republicans, including Representative Jacqueline Parker, were already thinking about messaging against the ballot measure in hopes that voters could stop the plan from becoming finalized. Parker tweeted, “Now it’s up to the voters in Maricopa county to read the 47 page bill & see if it’s worth $20 Billion. I recommend looking at provisions on pages: 8, 15, 16, 18, 21, 22, 34, & 35, which absolutely allow plenty of leeway for cities to implement their road diet, & transit expansion.”

The breakthrough on the Prop 400 compromise took place after Governor Hobbs vetoed a Republican proposal in June. At that time, Hobbs stated, “I just vetoed the partisan Prop 400 bill that fails to adequately support Arizona’s economic growth and does nothing to attract new business or create good-paying jobs.”

In May, the governor created unrest over ongoing negotiations, allegedly sending out a tweet that highlighted her fight with Republicans at the Legislature at the same time she was meeting with Senate President Warren Petersen.

Petersen, one of the most conservative members in the state legislature, championed the importance of the bill, asserting that officials had “secured a good, responsible product for the citizens of Arizona to consider in 2024, giving voters the option to enhance critical infrastructure that our entire state relies upon.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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