Ducey Vetoes Maricopa County Transportation Tax Measure

Ducey Vetoes Maricopa County Transportation Tax Measure

By Terri Jo Neff |

Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a bill Wednesday which would have allowed Maricopa County voters to decide next year whether to extend a 2004 voter approved one-half cent transportation tax for another 25 years.

Ducey explained in his veto notice that his action was not about whether the 20-year voter approved Proposition 400 tax set to expire in December 2025 should be extended. Instead, he determined lawmakers approved House Bill 2685 with ballot language that was not responsible nor transparent.

“The language is not only biased, but it fails to include any mention of the increase of 20 to 25 years nor the changes to distribution for state highways, local roads and public transit,” Ducey wrote, pointing out the proposed ballot measure also does not take into consideration passage of the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

As a result, Ducey noted that what voters would have been asked to approve “does not properly account for the opportunity to properly leverage state dollars for federal transportation infrastructure funding.”

HB2685 passed the State Senate with only 7 aye votes from the 16 members of its Republican caucus, while the bill received support of only 10 of the 31 House Republicans on the final vote. It was introduced in March to replace Senate Bill 1356 which did not make it out of the House Rules Committee.

Ducey’s veto notice did not have much good to say about HB2685, but he gave a shout out to Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita for introducing various amendments to both bills to address several concerns the majority of Republican lawmakers had with the language of the ballot measure.

The amendments offered by Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) would have ensured a fairer ballot description narrative, Ducey explained, as well as provide more strategic insight into how the transportation and infrastructure tax dollars would be spent.

“Unfortunately, none of these amendments were adopted,” Ducey wrote, adding that asking voters to approve the extension as proposed “is not the way to address the needs of our growing state.”

Reaction to Ducey’s veto was swift, including a statement from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club which called the veto “well-deserved” to avoid allocating transportation dollars for bike lanes, trollies, and “little used transit” at the expense of critical freeway maintenance. 

“We commend the Governor for this wise decision and for hearing the concerns brought up by opponents throughout the process as well as thousands of Arizona taxpayers who expressed deep concerns over the poorly drafted legislation,” the AFEC statement reads. “The real victors of course are the taxpayers themselves who deserve common sense transportation policy and accountability for their tax dollars.”

Also complimenting Ducey’s veto was the Arizona Chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

However, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego tweeted that she was profoundly disappointed by what she called Ducey’s shortsighted, anti-economic development, and “out of touch” veto.

One thing Gallego’s six-part missive did not mention is there is nothing in Ducey’s veto to prevent legislators from drafting a sounder bill next session and get it before voters in plenty of time to be decided before the one-half cent tax expires.

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Ducey Vetoes Maricopa County Transportation Tax Measure

Ducey Vetoes “Well Intentioned” Bill That Could Have Ended A State Of Emergency

By Terri Jo Neff |

Gov. Doug Ducey described bipartisan legislation which sought to strengthen the State Emergency Council “well intentioned,” but he vetoed the bill anyway on Friday.

Senate Bill 1719 was one of 24 bills transmitted to the governor’s desk June 30, the last day of the legislative session. It was the only one vetoed by Ducey, who believed changing the law related to the State Emergency Council “would add unneeded bureaucracy to the management of emergencies, especially wildfires.”

There are 12 voting members of the State Emergency Council which recommends rules, orders, policies, and procedures to the governor during a declared state of emergency. State law requires the Council to “monitor each emergency declared by the governor” as well as the activities and responses to the emergency.

The Council is also required to recommend to the governor or the legislature when it believes emergency conditions have stabilized and the emergency “is substantially contained.”

Currently, the Council can be convened by the director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management if the governor “is inaccessible.” It can then issue a state of emergency proclamation if approved at by at least three members of the Council, at least one of whom must be an elected official.

However, the law makes no mention of what happens if an accessible governor fails to convene the Council.

SB1719 was introduced in January by Senate President Karen Fann and Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios to bipartisan support. It would have required a governor to convene the Council “on or before the fourteenth day after proclaiming a statewide state of emergency…and shall continue to convene the council at least once every fourteen days for the duration of the statewide state of emergency.”

Under the bill, a statewide state of emergency would terminate if the governor failed to convene the Council according to the ongoing 14-day timeline.

The House passed SB1719 on a 44 to 14 vote margin and the Senate unanimously passed it on a 29 to 0 vote. But Ducey vetoed the bill.

In a July 9 letter explaining his action, the governor wrote such a law was “unnecessary given the good and thoughtful reformed developed this session between my office and the legislature to ensure guard rails during future health emergencies, preventing the potential for the kind of extreme and job destroying measures that we saw in other placed around the country last year.”

The members of the State Emergency Council are: the governor, the secretary of state, the state attorney general, the Arizona Adjutant General, the director of the division of emergency management, the director of the department of transportation, the director of the department of health services, the director of environmental quality, the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the director of the state’s department of agriculture, the director of the department of administration, and the director of water resources.

 There are also two advisory members -the Senate President and the Speaker of the House- who may give advice to the other members of the State Emergency Council but who is not eligible to vote. SB1719 included a provision to add several other legislative leaders as advisory members.