Saturday, September 25, 2021 9:13 pm

Budget deal imperiled in Senate, where 4 Republicans oppose spending plan

GOP Sens. Paul Boyer, Heather Carter, J.D. Mesnard and Michelle Ugenti-Rita have drawn lines in the sand over a handful of issues that they said will keep them from supporting the $11.9 billion budget plan 

By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

The budget agreement between legislative leadership and Gov. Doug Ducey is in jeopardy in the Senate, where four Republicans say they plan to vote against the plan.

GOP Sens. Paul Boyer, Heather Carter, J.D. Mesnard and Michelle Ugenti-Rita have drawn lines in the sand over a handful of issues that they said will keep them from supporting the $11.9 billion budget plan after lawmakers learned the details on Monday.

Republicans have 17-13 advantage in the Senate, meaning that they can’t afford to lose more than one GOP vote without turning to Democrats, a move that would jeopardize the deal with Ducey.

Ugenti-Rita said she’s opposing the budget because of its failure to swiftly end a controversial vehicle license tax. The Scottsdale Republican had vowed to vote against any budget that didn’t repeal the fee, which the Arizona Department of Transportation set at $32 per vehicle, rather than the $18 estimated last year.

The budget plan includes repeal of the fee, but over five years; it would drop to $26 in fiscal year 2020, eventually reaching zero by 2024. Ugenti-Rita said that’s not fast enough, and wants to see the tax be phased out in no more than two years. She said it would be inappropriate to spend several extra years collecting money on a tax that should have never happened in the first place.

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