A $10.6 billion budget deal crafted by House Republican leaders bit the dust Tuesday, at least partly because some lawmakers felt Maricopa County should get a bigger portion of state transportation money.
House Majority Leader Tom Boone, R-Sun City, said he thought he had the 31 votes necessary to adopt the spending plan. But that was before Rep. Tom Prezelski, D-Tucson, cobbled together the votes to strip the plan of its proposal to help meet Maricopa County’s road construction needs at the expense of the rest of the counties.
When the amended budget measure came up for a vote, it had the support of only 27 Republicans and no Democrats in the 60-member chamber.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said he initially didn’t like some of the spending in the plan. He said the amendment to take money from Maricopa County convinced him he shouldn’t support it.
But the problems with the measure go deeper.
For example, Rep. Jennifer Burns, R-Tucson, specifically singled out the lack of money for Child Protective Services and for vaccines, “things that were important.”
Rep. Pete Hershberger, RTucson, said he much prefers the bipartisan spending plan hammered out across the courtyard in the Senate.
The Senate plan has more money for some social programs. Plus, Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, has said she would approve the Senate proposal.
The fight for transportation money started over efforts by some lawmakers to alter the formula used by the state Department of Transportation to divide revenue from gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees.
Now, half the cash goes to the rural areas, with 37 percent to Maricopa County and the rest to Pima County.
The Republican budget, however, stated that $62 million of that should be given out according to a different formula: 60 percent to Maricopa County, 16 percent for Pima and the balance to rural areas.
Prezelski said that unfairly interjects politics into the system because “Maricopa County screams the loudest.”