The Club recently shed light on the effort in Pinal County to ask voters to approve an additional half-cent transportation tax increase on top of the current transit tax. Following a series of State Auditor General reports, the existing tax—which dates back to the late 80’s—has a long recorded history of misuse and misallocation of funds. Transportation dollars have been used to give Christmas bonuses to city employees and the majority of the dollars are being allocated to the politically powerful municipalities in the county and not going toward needed regional road projects.
Due to opposition from the plan from the autodealers, homebuilders and taxpayer watchdog groups like the Club, the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) backed off on forcing a vote on the measure and has been working to figure out how to overcome the critisism of the $640M spending spree.
Their solution? They have asked Representative TJ Shope to sponsor special legislation to allow the RTA to include lower tax rates for certain tax classifications (likely automobiles and new home sales) as part of the proposed tax increase, an obvious attempt to buy off the political opposition to secure passage of the tax hike.
It is simply poor policy to create carve outs in the tax code that pick winners and losers among taxpayers. If Pinal County leaders believe more resources are needed for transportation, they ought to look internally first, both how they have managed past funds and prioritized transportation projects. We think they would find a great opportunity for improvement. And perhaps they could save their residents a little money too.