Light rail dispute at Legislature keeps vote on metro Phoenix freeway funding in limbo

By Mary Jo Pitzl | Arizona Republic

A Republican plan for a Valleywide transportation tax that would eliminate some transit funding hit a dead end Monday, as a Senate panel rejected a revised bill that could fund road and bus projects, but would bar any money for light rail.

Sen. Frank Carroll, R-Sun City West, cast the deciding “no” vote when he joined with Democrats, saying he hopes the House of Representatives can come up with a better proposal. A previous version of the defeated measure would have eliminated money for bus operations, but it was amended.

The 3-4 vote came despite admonitions from committee chairman and bill sponsor Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, that failure to pass Senate Bill 1122 would kill any chance of getting the legislative OK this year on a transportation tax.

Maricopa County is the only county in the state that needs legislative approval to go to its voters with a transportation tax. Regional officials want to put an extension of Proposition 400, a half-cent sales tax, on the November 2024 ballot. The tax is due to expire at the end of 2025.

“Our request is a simple one: Let us put this measure before the voters,” said Kenn Weise, chairman of the Maricopa Association of Governments and mayor of Avondale.


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February 2023