Lawmakers to take on Prop 400 upon return to the Capitol

Lawmakers to take on Prop 400 upon return to the Capitol

State lawmakers will consider legislation to extend a Maricopa County transportation half-cent sales tax when they return to the Capitol on Monday.  

The House is scheduled to move a bill that would extend the tax, Proposition 400.  A House Rules Committee agenda was posted Friday afternoon and the House is set to modify it during floor session later that day.  

Senate President Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, said Friday afternoon that Gov. Katie Hobbs and legislative leaders still haven’t come to an agreement.

House Speaker Ben Toma said the House put the legislation on the calendar so they can vote if a final deal is reached and the votes are there. 

“Either way, we will sine die on Monday,” Toma said.  

Before adjourning for more than a month, Republican lawmakers sent a Prop 400 proposal to Hobbs that passed on party lines as the bill would have split light rail funding into a separate question on the ballot for Maricopa County voters.  

Hobbs vetoed the bill on July 6 and Democrats have preferred a proposal approved by the Maricopa Association of Governments that allocates about 41% of the tax revenue to public transit, 37% to freeways and 22% to arterial projects. That plan passed the Legislature last year with bipartisan support but was vetoed by former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.  

It’s the last issue that lawmakers consider a priority for this historically long session. Monday will be the 204th day of the Legislative session. Voters approved Prop 400 in 1984 and again in 2004. The measure will expire in 2025 and lawmakers are seeking to put a proposal on the ballot for the 2024 election. 

Two pollsters, HighGround Public Affairs Consulting and Noble Predictive Insights, published surveys this week that indicate a strong majority of Maricopa County voters prefer a Prop 400 proposal with light rail funding.  

In Noble’s survey, 48% of Republicans said light rail should be expanded and 22% said light rail is fine as is with current Prop 400 funding.  

“That was the biggest surprise because, based on our research, there appears to be a disconnect between Republican leaders and Maricopa County GOP voters – they actually want light rail expansion even though Republican lawmakers are pushing to cut funding for them,” Noble Founder and Chief of Research Mike Noble said in a news release.  

HighGround’s survey found similar results and 68% of respondents expressed support for extending Prop 400 with an extension to the light rail system. About a quarter of respondents said they opposed it. 

“Not only does it earn support from all partisan and regional segments, it earned significant support among all age demographics as well. No matter what portion of the region a legislator represents, they can rest assured that their voters want an opportunity to vote on this issue,” HighGround Senior Vice President of Research and Strategy Paul Bentz said in a Friday news release.  

Arizona Capitol Times Legislative Reporter Camryn Sanchez contributed to reporting to this article