PHOENIX - A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing a measure that would charge Arizona drivers a new fee to help pay for repairs of deteriorating roads and bridges.
Republican state Rep. Noel Campbell introduced the proposal that would create a vehicle registration fee to fund highway patrol at the state Department of Public Safety, The Arizona Republic reported. In a roundabout way, it would send the money to road construction and repairs.
"Nobody enjoys raising taxes, of course not," he said. "But you know the condition of the roads and bridges and infrastructure in this state."
The state has taken money meant for road fixes and used it to pay for highway patrol when the budget was tight. More than $1.1 billion has been taken from road projects since 2001, according to the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
The new fee, estimated at about $18, would bring in about $149 million per year for highway patrol costs, according to the Legislature's budget analysts.
The state House approved the measure Feb. 20, but it now faces a rocky road in the state Senate, where a similar bill died last year.
"This could be construed as a $120 million tax to the people of Arizona," said Republican Rep. Paul Mosley, an opponent of the fee. "I do have a problem giving a bureaucrat the power to raise our taxes without going through us."
A spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who adamantly opposes tax hikes, says he generally doesn't comment on legislation that isn't on his desk.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com