Maricopa County Transportation Tax Passes Arizona Legislature

Maricopa County Transportation Tax Passes Arizona Legislature

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona legislature approved the Maricopa County transportation tax on Monday along bipartisan lines, 43-14 in the House and 19-7 in the Senate.

The bill, SB1102, would allow voters to decide whether to maintain the current transportation excise tax: Proposition 400, set to expire at the end of 2025. It doesn’t maintain the original reformation desired by Republican lawmakers: a choice to separate roads and commuter rail when it comes to funding. Prop 400 binds the two together as a package deal.

The legislature convened to consider SB1102 after Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed the version of the bill splitting the Prop 400 question (SB1246) last month.

The 14 House legislators who opposed the bill were State Reps. Neal Carter (R-LD15), Joseph Chaplik (R-LD03), Justin Heap (R-LD10), Laurin Hendrix (R-LD14), Rachel Jones (R-LD17), Alexander Kolodin (R-LD03), David Marshall (R-LD07), Cory McGarr (R-LD17), Steve Montenegro (R-LD29), Barbara Parker (R-LD10), Jacqueline Parker (R-LD15), Michael Peña (R-LD23), Beverly Pingerelli (R-LD28), and Austin Smith (R-LD29). The seven Senate legislators who opposed the bill were State Sens. Shawnna Bolick (R-LD02), Sally Ann Gonzales (D-LD20), Jake Hoffman (R-LD15), Anthony Kern (R-LD27), J.D. Mesnard (R-LD13), Wendy Rogers (R-LD07), and Justine Wadsack (R-LD17).

The bill’s passage marked a divide among Republican lawmakers as leadership declared it a win. Senate President Warren Petersen (R-LD12) said in a press release that the bill would ensure infrastructure development to counter the rising rates of vehicle congestion and travel times on the road while preventing ineffective environmentalist policies.

Sen. Frank Carroll (R-LD28) noted that the bill restricted any level of Arizonan government from restricting the use or sale of a vehicle based on its energy source, and required mass transit to recoup at least 10 percent of costs from farebox revenues beginning in 2027, and then 20 percent by 2031.

Opponents disagreed that the bill constituted a win. Kolodin argued during the floor vote that the bill denied voters true choice. Kolodin estimated that Prop 400’s continuation would halve road funding in order to pay for other commuter projects used by one percent of the population. He noted that SB1102 further bled roads funding by allowing those funds to be used for other projects, like bicyclist paths and sidewalks.

“This bill denies voters of Maricopa County a real choice. It holds road funding hostage in order that the voters, who would otherwise not vote in favor of spending 40 percent of the money of this new tax on transit projects that less than one percent of them use, that they choose to vote for them anyway to get the roads,” said Kolodin. “A tax extension is a tax increase.”

Rogers said the bill constituted a tax far too expensive and weak for her taste.

Democrats championed the bill as a necessity for achieving equity.

State Rep. Marcelino Quiñonez (D-LD11) said that Prop 400 was the “responsibility” of the legislature to pass.

Heap called the bill “disappointing.”

Heap and Jones predicted that the bill’s passage marked a major win for the Democratic Party and the Hobbs administration, one that would carry into the 2024 election.

State Rep. Matthew Gress (R-LD04), who voted in favor of the bill, said it would ensure the restoration of State Route 51 and other critical pavement rehabilitation. Gress said that the 3.5 percent cap on the existing light rail system, a contingency for Hobbs’ approval, constituted a win since it was far less than other proposed rates.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) voiced opposition to the plan on Sunday, warning that the bill wouldn’t prevent road diets, Vision Zero projects, and progressive air quality control measures. AFEC offered a side-by-side comparison of SB1102 and the predecessor vetoed by Hobbs last month, SB1246.

AFEC further assessed that SB1102 would enable the Maricopa Association of Governments to enact its 2050 Momentum Plan.

Prop 400 will appear on the November 2024 ballot for final voter approval. The tax was set to expire at the end of 2025.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Maricopa County Transportation Tax Advances to House Floor

Maricopa County Transportation Tax Advances to House Floor

By Corinne Murdock |

The House Transportation Committee approved SB1356, legislation to give Maricopa County residents a vote for or against a transportation tax and excise tax plan. The committee passed with bipartisan support, with the exception of three: State Representatives Neal Carter (R-Queen Creek), Kevin Payne (R-Peoria), and Leo Biasucci (R-Lake Havasu City).Two didn’t vote either way: State Representatives Brenda Barton (R-Payson) and David Cook (R-Globe). 

Arizona Free Enterprise Club Vice President Aimee Yentes expressed opposition to the bill, noting that 40 percent of the money was allocated for public transit. Yentes explained that the 1985 transportation tax plan was successful because it built freeways, but that over the decades the plan shifted from essential infrastructure like roads and freeways to “transit,” despite a steep, increasing decline in its use. That number sits at half a percent currently. 

“As we’ve seen post-COVID, that ridership number has fallen off a cliff. There are actually more people who don’t own a vehicle that take a car to work than actually use public transit. That’s kind of astonishing,” said Yentes. 

Yentes also noted that the bill sets aside funding for something already covered by statute: “regional programs.” She said the definition of that term was problematic because it doesn’t distinguish street intersection improvements but, rather, “arterial roads and regional programs.”

“It really is a catch-all that can be used to siphon off local city slush funds for whatever: complete streets, air quality,” said Yentes. 

The bill sponsor, State Senator Tyler Pace (R-Mesa) said that the bill’s rejection, either by the legislature or by Maricopa County voters, would necessitate the Arizona legislature to find the funds for transportation projects themselves. Pace insisted that the committee members shouldn’t nitpick at the provisions of the bill because the greater good concerned Arizona’s legacy of quiet, fast roads superior to those of other states. 

State Representative Richard Andrade (D-Glendale) compared SB1356 to previous efforts to expand and extend the state’s two major highways: Loop 101 and the I-17. Andrade argued that creating more public transit like light rails would increase their use.

Those in opposition explained that they weren’t confident this bill would actually meet transportation needs. Carter said that he supported infrastructure, but said that the legislation had room for improvement. Carter said his reservations included provisions for expenditures related to air quality, and the expansion beyond a 20-year authorization.

Payne expressed displeasure that legislators impacted by the bill weren’t included in stakeholder meetings. He explained that his constituents were requesting another bus route down Bell Road, for example, and that he couldn’t vote for the bill in good conscience because of that.

Echoing Carter and Payne’s statements in his “no” vote was Biasucci. Biasucci argued that the legislature should utilize its $4 billion in surplus instead of passing the costs on to taxpayers.

“I think this is, really, how it needs to be done: the money should come from the general fund to be spent on major projects, I’m talking billions of dollars’ worth, in my opinion. For me, when we’re sitting on this huge surplus, it’s hard for me to say, ‘Yes, I agree with a tax increase or an extension,’” said Biasucci. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to