By Rebekah L. Sanders for The Arizona Republic
Gov. Doug Ducey has promised to stop taking $30M in transportation money annually from Arizona cities and counties to balance the state’s budget.
The promise is a win for local governments still smarting from revenue declines during the Great Recession. It came months ahead of the start of the Arizona Legislature’s session and the release of the governor’s budget plan for the next fiscal year.
The Arizona Legislature, with support from Ducey and former Gov. Jan Brewer, has shifted state costs to, and decreased funding slated for, cities and counties to the tune of about $500M, according to the County Supervisors Association of Arizona.
The state has dipped into shared transportation money from the Highway User Revenue Fund, or HURF, to pay for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The state’s decisions to cut or divert funds forced deep cuts to county and municipal services. Some counties say they can’t afford to fix crumbling roads. Others can’t hire enough sheriff’s deputies. At least two counties are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
Frustrated supervisors have taken to calling the shifts “tax increases,” because some blame the state for forcing them to consider tax hikes. They hope the language puts pressure on Ducey, who campaigned on the promise of no new taxes and is up for re-election in 2018.
However, Ducey so far has not promised that the millions in cost shifts and funding sweeps beyond HURF that counties and cities faced earlier this year in the legislative session will go away. Legislative budget analysts in October predicted a $100M state budget shortfall in 2018 due to corporate tax cuts. That shortfall will affect those budgetary decisions.
Read more at The Arizona Republic.