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Lawmaker says pet projects reduced tax rebates for Arizonans

Howard Fisher Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — More Arizonans would have received tax refunds if other lawmakers, including Republican colleagues, hadn’t secured funding for pet projects in their hometown, the conservative congressional leader says.

Senator Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek, R-Queen Creek), chairman of the Arizona Liberal caucuses, said at a news conference Monday that the state’s $17.8 billion budget was for a one-time tax cut. He boasted that $260 million was secured. He said it was necessary to offset the inflation and higher costs imposed under the Biden administration.

But that $260 million isn’t enough, he said, so only families with children are eligible.

For others, including seniors living on fixed incomes, “If every legislator put money into this fundraiser, we would get $2.4 billion in kickbacks that would impact seniors and other categories. I could do it,” he said. ”

Others are reading…

This was the amount left after lawmakers adopted the state funding plan for the coming year and made necessary adjustments for inflation and program growth.

To even out the votes, negotiators agreed to give each member a share of the surplus (usually $30 million for senators, $20 million for congressmen, and another for the governor). bottom.

Lawmakers also had the option of pooling their stakes for larger issues, such as the Democratic Party’s decision to provide a one-time fund of $300 million for kindergarten through high school. A $150 million deposit in the Housing Trust Fund also came from the Democratic pool.

Hoffman tried to do the same with tax refunds.

“But unfortunately, this budgeting season, what we’ve seen is that only Congressmen behind me and a handful of other conservative Republicans choose to spend money that way, It was that they chose to use their tax money to return money to taxpayers,” he lamented. .

“We have taken care of the district.”

Among those gathered at the podium behind Hoffman was Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli (R-City of Lake Havasu). Borrelli confirmed that his cut would ultimately go to Lake Havasu City’s $35.5 million bridge.

But when asked about Republican lawmakers who have decided to spend on projects ranging from circular transit, pavement improvements, sidewalks and highway extensions, Mr. Hoffman deflected the question.

“Are you talking about the Republican Party?” “The reality is, not a single Democrat has donated a single penny out of that $2.4 billion to help get tax refunds for families in Arizona.” It’s a disappointing farce. ”

When asked about spending $300 million to fund K-12 schools, he said, “That’s not what I want to talk about here today.”

Borrelli insisted that some of the surplus money be used for purposes other than cutting taxes.

“Rural Arizona has always been ignored,” he told the Capitol Media Service after the press conference.

Building a second bridge in Lake Havasu City is a public safety issue, he said.

“We’ve taken care of our district and that’s why they sent me here,” Borrelli said.

The decision is usually left to ADOT

He did not dispute that under normal circumstances, funding priorities for road projects would be determined by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Constantly updated, he has a five-year plan to raise the necessary funds based on his priorities.

But delegating the decision to ADOT made Borelli noticeably callous. “So an agency of state government, the bureaucracy, has more power than the legislature to decide how that money is spent?” he said.

Borrelli wasn’t the only one to ask for a cut of the surplus, but he was the only one to appear at Hoffmann’s press conference and take credit for the kickback.

Projects are scattered across the state.

Share of Tucson

Of the 44 budget, $1.8 million is given to the City of Sierra Vista for improvements to Theater Drive. Grove will receive $3.5 million to build sidewalks along Jessie Hayes Road and Six Shooter Canyon Road. In Tucson, he is donating $15 million to improve the Drexel Road Bridge.

Other funds will be used for future projects.

$9.2 million is included in Pinal County’s budget to design and engineer the new East-West Corridor. In addition, he plans to donate $10 million to Marana for the design of a transportation interchange between Interstate 10 and Cortaro Road. And $250,000 has been donated to Cave Creek to consider increasing the number of lanes along Cave Creek Road.

Not all landmarks are on the road.

Chandler, Tucson and Mesa Police Departments have donated $750,000 to pilot programs for the use of pepper balls. Peoria police will receive $3.5 million for the helicopter. Mojave County is seeking $500,000 to purchase a sheriff’s office vehicle.

Nonprofits also got in on the action, donating $15.3 million to volunteer groups running rodeos at the Yavapai County fairgrounds.

Get your morning rundown of today’s local news and read the full story here.

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