Last year, under the guise of public safety, a bill was passed at the legislature to charge Arizona drivers an additional VLT (vehicle license tax) fee. Although it was purported as a dedicated funding source for Highway Safety Patrol, the money was immediately swept to support payment of the Governor’s 20×2020 teacher salary raise plan.
The fee was passed with all Democrats and a handful of Republicans, with conservative Republicans getting rolled on the bill. Despite the claims that the fee would be $18, the bill gave unilateral authority to the Department of Transportation to set the tax, and when finally assessed the fee doubled at $32.
In the New Year, without ANY organized opposition, Arizonans all over the state started expressing their outrage to lawmakers about the tax. Several legislators immediately filed bills to repeal and/or cap the fee.
Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (the main champion of the full repeal) sponsored Senate Bill 1001, which sailed out of the senate with a 24-6 vote. Many of the lawmakers who supported the bill last year have now backtracked on their vote.
The bill was never given a full vote in the House as it got caught up in budget negotiations with the Governor’s office.
Now budget bills have been released which showed a 5-year phase out of the tax. With Senator Ugenti-Rita holding the line, the Governor’s office finally ceded to a 2-year phase out of the fee.
Unfortunately, taxpayers won’t being seeing a refund of that $32. However, this is a tremendous win for legislators and taxpayers! Not only were they successful in getting a tax eliminated that should have never been passed to begin with, but they are in the process of repealing some of the worst public policy to ever pass out of the legislature.