House Passes Bill To Double Pima County’s RTA Sales Tax

pima county

In a bipartisan vote last week, the Arizona House passed HB2109 which doubles the Pima County-wide Regional Transportation Authority’s regressive sales tax if voters go along. The bill is now under consideration in the Senate.

HB2109, sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope (LD- 8) was rejected by a majority of Republican House members.

The County had tried to pass the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) measure, which had failed “four times previously and was far behind in pre-election polls,” but “succeeded in 2006 because of fraud,” according to the Arizona Republic.

At the time, Pima County voters approved a half-cent sales tax to fund “regional roadway, safety, environmental, economic vitality, and transit improvements.”

Since then, the Regional Transportation Authority has been mired in controversy.

In April 2017, the Arizona Auditor General found RTA, which is controlled by Pima County, “had not established specific performance targets and did not have baseline data for targets, thus precluding auditors’ assessment of performance related to congestion, mobility, and connectivity.”

Read the report here and the RTA response here

Specifically, auditors found that the “available performance data” they did have “indicated mixed result related to increased congestion, improved safety, fair pavement condition, and declining bridge health on roadways in addition to few opportunities to improve effectiveness and accountability related to target setting, performance delivery measurement, performance reporting, and revenue estimates.”

Much of the money raised by the tax has been spent on projects like an animal bridge, a road-widening to accommodate no-show or failed space companies, and a streetcar; all of which have done little to improve “economic vitality,” while over 80 percent of Pima County’s are in failing condition.

In 2013, ADI columnist, Jonathan DuHamel asked: “If the Tucson modern streetcar ever actually becomes operational, will it, too, just cannibalize the bus system without getting people out of their cars? Will the result be that Tucson spends almost $200 million in capital costs and $4.4 million annually in operating costs, just to transfer some bus riders to a much more expensive form of public transportation?

The streetcar did become operational in a very limited form. The answer to all of DuHamel’s questions is yes.

The animal bridge, more formally known as a wildlife crossing, is incorporated in ADOT’s widening project of Oracle Road from Tangerine Road to the Pinal County line. According to public relations material created by the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, “Totaling $11 million, these structures are paid for by voter approved funds from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).”

House Overview HB 2109: county transportation excise tax

Increases the county transportation excise tax to no more than 20% when alone or together with any tax imposed for the county transportation excise tax.


Current law allows a county transportation excise tax rate of not more than 10%. Rate changes must be approved by qualified electors at a countywide election. (A.R.S. § 42-6106)


1. Increases the county transportation excise tax rate, if approved by the qualified electors voting at a countywide election, to no more than 20% when alone or combined with any tax imposed for the county transportation excise tax for roads, of the rate prescribed under: the transaction privilege classification rates, the jet fuel excise tax rate, or on the use or consumption of electricity or natural gas customer subject to use tax. (Sec. 1)

HB2109 passed 44-16-0-0-0
John AllenYRichard C. AndradeYNancy BartoNLeo BiasiucciN
Walter BlackmanNIsela BlancYReginald Bolding, Jr.YShawnna BolickN
Kelli ButlerYNoel W. CampbellYAndres CanoYFrank CarrollY
César ChávezYRegina E. CobbYDavid L. CookNDomingo DeGraziaY
Timothy M. DunnYKirsten EngelYMitzi EpsteinYDiego EspinozaY
Charlene R. FernandezYJohn FillmoreNMark FinchemNRandall FrieseY
Rosanna GabaldónYTravis W. GranthamNGail GriffinNAlma HernandezY
Daniel Hernandez, Jr.YJennifer JermaineYJohn KavanaghNAnthony T. KernN
Jay LawrenceYAaron LiebermanYJennifer LongdonYRobert MezaY
Becky A. NuttYJoanne OsborneYJennifer PawlikYKevin PayneN
Geraldine PetenYWarren PetersenNPamela Powers HannleyYTony RiveroY
Bret RobertsNDiego RodriguezYAthena SalmanYAmish ShahY
Thomas “T.J.” ShopeYLorenzo SierraYDavid StringerYArlando TellerY
Raquel TeránYBob ThorpeNBen TomaYKelly TownsendN
Myron TsosieYMichelle UdallYJeff WeningerYRussell “Rusty” BowersY

Related articles:

Houghton Road “Cocoon” overrun by nature

Tucson modern streetcar creates fire safety concerns

Pinal County Transportation Sales Tax Found Illegal


  1. Relax. All the opponents to the tax increase, of which I am one, will simply place images of Chuckleberry next to pleas to vote no and the tax will be defeated. That guy is an anchor around the neck of every tax initiative so failed is his credibility.

  2. @Aric, you can call in and report a pothole to the Tucson transportation dept. In most cases they are prompt in filling then once called.
    Try calling (520) 791-3154 and report a pothole.

    The Oracle

  3. It has been a while since I was mad enough to post a comment. I’m mad as hell and i am not going to take it any more.

  4. Well the only fortunate thing with this is that it WILL go to the voters for approval. Problem is so did the last one and that’s when the corruption/fraud started (“according to the Arizona Republic”).

  5. The taxpayers that have to foot the bill for this, need to and should see a 20 or 30 year breakdown of how previous tax revenue was allocated and spent. It’s safe to say tax payers are getting tired of “we need to raise taxes” as the token answer for everything. Proper budgeting and eliminating bloat/pork by negotiations where possible needs to be the central forcus. Not just “give us more revenue or else.”

  6. The answer is No!! What a Joke! Much of the money raised by the tax has been spent on failed projects! We the people are tired of being lied to!! Rate changes must be approved by qualified electors at a countywide Election, according to History!

  7. Taxes Taxes! And just what do we get besides their hand in our pocketbooks? In my neighborhood two weeks ago I saw some city workers cheaply patching some potholes on three streets. Now as I turn onto my street from 1st Ave(near Roger Rd.) there on the corner lies a big a$$ pothole. If I turn right onto my street I have no choice but to hit it, if I turn left onto my street ditto. The only way to avoid it and damage to my tires is to turn wide. But I must be careful there is no oncoming cars or head on occurs.
    I asked a city worker if they would patch that pothole, he said “had to talk to the Big Boss, but yeah he would try.” Two weeks later big a$$ pothole still there. BTW every time there is some city work going on 1st Ave the traffic backs up past two lights, cars use our street as a detour to avoid moving at a snails pace. I don’t think I have to tell you the havoc this causes with cars speeding west on an otherwise quiet street, more wear and tear,gas fumes and dust!
    Taxes! Taxes! what the hell do we get? Nothing!

  8. How can you double a non-existent sales tax? Pima County Administrator Charles Huckelberry has been telling us for years that “Pima County is the only county without a sales tax.” Are you saying he was being untruthful? Not our Chuck! If he deliberately lied to the public his bosses, the elected Board of Supervisors, would have disciplined him, right? That’s their job, right?

    But, gee, couldn’t the present sales tax’s “transit improvements” and “safety” money be used for fixing roads instead of new projects to enrich cronies?

  9. Once a Tax, always a Tax and now they want to double it! Houghton Road, which way back when Mayor Walkup said he would “front load” that project it’s still no where near completion. Speaking of which, can anyone tell me why, in the completed sections of the road, they went from a two-lane ‘cow trail’ to a six-lane divided road and lowered the speed limit to 45?

    • To hide motorcycle cops out there and collect more tax revenue. I say the same thing about Houghton and Valencia all the time. Widen the roads and lower the speed limit. It’s all about revenue yet they say “It’s for your safety” Bullshit!

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