Campbell hopes branding will sell his massive gas tax increase bill

Campbell introduces “Pay for the Road Ahead” bill

PHOENIX — State Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Precott, is hoping a catchy name will serve as the lipstick on his porcine bill, HB2536, which will raise the regressive gas tax by 50 percent. Last week, Campbell rolled out his “Pay for the Road Ahead” bill to ensure that “everyone is paying for the roads they use.”

“Infrastructure is a critical component for our quality of life, and we must ensure that we are paying for the road ahead. While we are securing our water future, the same must be done for our transportation future. In the past, the 18-cent gas tax was enough to fund our roads when our population was a little more than half our current size, gas was a $1.14 a gallon, and vehicles were only getting 21 miles per gallon,” said Campbell in a press release.

“That, combined with the fact that electric vehicles and vehicles with alternative fuel sources are contributing very little for the roads they use, has created an untenable situation. The world has changed, and we are falling behind in our transportation obligations by nearly $1 billion per year. HB 2536 would ensure that everyone pays for the roads they use.”

HB 2536 would increase motor vehicle use fees incrementally over the next several years. The rate per gallon for gasoline and light-truck diesel fuel would increase to 28 cents in 2019, 38 cents in 2020, and 43 cents in 2021.

The rate per gallon for heavy-truck diesel fuel would increase to 36 cents in 2019, 46 cents in 2020, and 51 cents in 2021. Electric and hybrid vehicles would be subject to a corresponding road usage fee to account for the wear and tear that they place on our roads, according to Campbell.

“According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, we currently have funds to maintain just 47% of our roads in the state. This legislation is part of my ongoing efforts to have an honest dialogue with our taxpayers about our obligations and make sure we are meeting them,” concluded Campbell in his press release.

“Tax increases for everything at the legislature,” said Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller. “Our Trump Tax cuts appear to be gone, and now a gas tax increase? It is 50 percent in first year and then goes up for the next 2 years after that, which is a total of 138 percent increase from now to 2021. Will it be swept or actually get to the roads?”

Miller is referring to the fact that Governor Doug Ducey is fighting efforts by conservatives to ensure that the benefits from the Trump Tax Reform package will be available to Arizonans. Ducey wants the monies that should be saved by taxpayers to be used instead to fund his growing budgetary promises to the teachers’ unions.

Miller’s question about funds being swept refers to the fact that for years, Ducey and past administrations swept monies generated by the gas tax away from repairing roads to other pet projects or to back fill bloated budgets.

During the economic down turn, administrations swept road monies with few complaints. However, since the economy has rebounded, the possibility of sweeps is highly controversial and will be met with resistance.

Jose Borrajero, founder of the Arizona People’s Lobbyist project stated, “What is is about politicians’ DNA that makes them clamor for more money as the primary source of problem solving? There must be a full public accounting of how our infrastructure money has been spent before we can even consider such a radical tax increase.”

“We have been seeing the proliferation of a three part scheme,” explained Borrajero. “First, a politician initiates some wonderful pet project and proudly announces that it is happening without increasing taxes. Second, the pet project is funded by taking funds away from some popular, critical service. Third, the politician clamors for more money to ease the suffering caused by under funding the popular, critical service. It works every time.”

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