Hobbs Vetoes Prop 400 Bill Leaving Voters With Fewer Choices

Hobbs Vetoes Prop 400 Bill Leaving Voters With Fewer Choices

By Daniel Stefanski |

On Tuesday, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed the Republican-led Prop 400 legislation, which was transmitted to her office last week.

Hobbs provided a statement on Twitter, justifying her decision, writing, “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. I strongly encourage the Legislature to vote on the compromise supported by a bipartisan majority in the House and Senate, business and labor leaders, and Maricopa County Mayors.”

Mesa Mayor John Giles, a Republican, praised the governor for her decision. Giles stated, “Thank you, Governor Hobbs, for your veto. We hope the Legislature will reconsider the cities’ Prop 400 compromise bill, to deliver quality-of-life benefits for all residents and strengthen our economy. Cities are committed to getting a balanced, multi-modal plan to the voters.”

On the other side of the political aisle, Democrat Mayor Kate Gallego also expressed her gratitude for Hobbs’ veto, tweeting, “Thank you, Governor Hobbs. We need a transportation plan that will support economic growth for years to come, and that’s not what this bill would have delivered. It’s time for the legislature to pass the plan that’s been endorsed by all our region’s mayors and tribal leaders.”

A spokesperson for the Arizona Senate Republican caucus told AZ Free News, “We put a good bill on her desk that passed with Majority support. Her and MAG’s proposal doesn’t have the votes she claims it does. We’re willing to come back to the table to negotiate in good faith, and we will consider all reasonable requests, but we won’t vote on a plan that doesn’t focus the majority of taxpayer dollars towards freeways and roads, which are the transportation options our citizens rely on to get to and from on a daily basis.”

SB 1246, as amended, passed the state house with a 31-26 vote (three members not voting) and the state senate with a 16-12 tally (two members not voting).

After the Legislature passed its proposal, the Arizona Freedom Caucus released a statement, touting the plan and calling on the governor to sign the bill on her desk. The Caucus wrote, “The passage of the conservative Prop 400 plan is a major victory for Valley commuters and taxpayers by fully funding highways and arterial roadway projects, eliminating any opportunity for the expansion of the utterly failed light rail system, and providing a guaranteed tax cut of $241 million. Additionally, the conservative Prop 400 plan provides voters the opportunity to cut their sales tax at the ballot box by more than $3.37 billion. Unlike the MAG and Hobbs’ plans, the conservative Prop 400 plan properly prioritizes building better freeways and roadways while simultaneously reducing commute times, traffic congestion, and taxes – a true win-win.”

A bipartisan group of Valley mayors, however – including Gallego and Giles – issued a statement last week to denounce the Republican legislators’ plan for Prop 400 and to threaten to circumvent the House and Senate. The six mayors stated that the Republican lawmakers’ “priorities involving transportation just don’t mesh with the realities of where we are as the fastest-growing county in the U.S. We are unalterably opposed to their plan, and if no solution is reached, we will have no choice but to get this before voters in 2024.”

House Speaker Ben Toma has taken exception to Hobbs’ public comments and negotiating abilities over Prop 400, telling reporters previously, “The Governor has chosen to be an uncompromising conduit for an inefficient MAG proposal that does not have sufficient votes to succeed in the House. I remain willing to negotiate, but their take-or-leave-it attitude is decidedly unproductive.”

Last month, 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.

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

Arizona Schools Levy $100 Million Property Tax Increase, Don’t Use Federal Relief

Arizona Schools Levy $100 Million Property Tax Increase, Don’t Use Federal Relief

By Corinne Murdock |

Most school districts have decided to saddle their local communities with a near-$100 million property tax increase, which will hit this month. In 2020, the Transpo Delta tax totaled just over $79 million; this year, it will be $178 million.

The law allows districts to raise local property taxes, called a “Transpo Delta” tax, to make up the difference between their current transportation funding determined by the Transportation Support Level (TSL) formula and the highest amount of transportation funding they’ve received historically, or the Transportation Revenue Control Limit (TRCL). Transportation funding is based on the amount of route-miles driven. Essentially, the Transpo Delta tax is TRCL minus TSL.

As Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) researcher Sean McCarthy explained, this latest Transpo Delta tax won’t hit communities equally.

“Some districts have almost no Transpo Delta tax because their route-mile driven formula in TSL is close to their TRCL,” assessed McCarthy. “Some have massive amounts, meaning they essentially get more funding than others in relative terms. Districts with lower property value incur abusive tax rates to pay for the Transpo Delta in some cases.”

School districts didn’t have to impose this burden on taxpayers. Districts had the option of tapping into $3.7 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

“The one-time decrease in formula monies for transportation is a perfect example of what federal dollars should backfill. It’s not as though this $3.7 billion can be used for permanent pay raises for employees – it’s one-time money,” stated McCarthy. “For most districts, their one-time decrease in formula transportation funding represents a tiny fraction of the federal monies they received.”

According to ATRA, Tucson Unified School District increased taxes by $10.4 million, yet received just under $270 million in federal relief; Alhambra Elementary School District increased taxes by over $1 million, yet received over $93 million in federal relief; and Paradise Valley Unified School District increased taxes by over $4 million and received $64.5 million in federal relief.

Those districts who chose not to increase taxes are Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District, Alpine Elementary School District, Palominas Elementary School District, and San Fernando Elementary School District.

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