‘Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax’ Looks ‘Optimistic’ for Legislative Referral to the Ballot

A transportation bill dubbed the “Maricopa County Transit Slush Fund Tax” by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) is steadily advancing through the legislature, and its supporters say it will probably make it through the Arizona Legislature this year in a referral to the ballot. Senate Bill (SB) 1356 has passed the Senate, the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee, and the House Transportation Committee. Valley Metro’s new CEO Jessica Mefford-Miller said this week about it, “We are cautiously optimistic about SB 1356.”

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New Arizona Law Prohibits Mask Mandates on Government Property

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill recently banning mask mandates on Arizona government property.

“Citizens should not be required to wear a mask to access government services,” said the State Representative Neal Carter (R-Phoenix), who sponsored the measure.” This law prevents policy setting by unelected bureaucrats which, in my own experience, led to the public being denied entry to some county buildings that continued to impose mask requirements long after such mandates had been widely dispensed with or prohibited around the state.”

House Bill (HB) 2453 received “unanimous support from House and Senate Republicans.”

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Two Tools Track Arizona Governments, Reveal Missteps and Waste

Arizona Capitol

It is National Sunshine Week, which celebrates transparency in government, including creating awareness about requesting information from governments through FOIA public record requests. In Arizona, there are two tools provided by state agencies which allow anyone to look online at some of the government spending by state and local governments. Although it is a minimal amount of data, it reveals some missteps and waste. 

The Arizona State Treasurer manages AZCheckbook.com, which provides information about funding the state gets from all sources, including the federal government, and how much it is distributing to schools, cities, and towns. The Arizona Department of Administration operates OpenBooks.AZ.gov, which provides checkbook-level information about individual state expenditures, including on the city and county level.

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New Local Taxes for Public Transit May Be on the Way for Some Pennsylvania Counties

Public transportation funding has been a growing concern in some cities, and a proposed bill could give some Pennsylvania counties the authority to levy local taxes to support their transit systems.

Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-Chester/Montgomery, introduced HB2366 to grant Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties the ability to levy taxes “​​for transit and transportation systems and transportation infrastructure.”

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Public May Not See Net Benefit of Infrastructure Bill That Could Expand Rail in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Much fanfare surrounding infrastructure legislation in Congress focuses on road and bridge improvements, but the bill’s implications for relatively costly rail transit in northeastern Pennsylvania and elsewhere have gotten far less attention.

The current proposal to spend $66 billion on Amtrak would be the largest federal expenditure on passenger rail since the creation of the transit agency.

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Gas Tax Increase, Budget Cuts Give Ohio $2 Billion for Road Projects

Ohio Department of Transportation worker

Despite traffic on state highways, roads and bridges decreasing significantly in 2020, the Ohio Department of Transportation expects to spend nearly $2 billion in the next year on nearly 1,000 projects.

Traffic volume fell by 15.5% during the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic limited road travel, ODOT said. More people worked from home. Stay-at-home health orders, capacity limits, business closures and statewide curfews also reigned in optional travel.

Despite the limited driving, which also leads to less fuel consumption and less taxpayer money available, ODOT pointed to a 2019 gas tax increase, along with budget cuts, for staving off what could have billon a $3 billion swing in taxpayer money for the department.

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