Tuesday, September 06, 2011

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Court finds GOP stole transportation funds, hands victory to Arizonans

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXRepublican lawmakers and Gov. Jan Brewer illegally raided Arizona’s public transit funds in an attempt to fill a budget gap, the U.S. District Court in Arizona ruled on Friday.

The court said that in 2010, the Republican-controlled legislature and Brewer had no power to pass and sign HB 2012, a bill that eliminated the local transportation assistance fund, but they did anyway. Nearly $34 million a year was taken from the fund, a total of $51 million since 2010, but Arizonans will soon see transit funded again.

“This money will go to work right away to create jobs for those working in public transit as well as restoring access to jobs for those who depend on public transit to get to work,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley. “It also reduces congestion and pollution for all of us. Democrats have fought to preserve these investments and it is gratifying that the judge agreed so completely with a summary judgment on the same day as oral arguments.”

Public interest attorney Joy Herr Cardillo of Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest served as the attorney who fought for the transit funding.

The transportation fund is part of a state implementation plan, as required by the Clean Air Act, to meet the national ambient air quality standards. Maricopa County, particularly the Phoenix metro area, has failed to meet those standards. In 1993, the plan was developed, including using lottery monies to put in the transportation fund. But in 2010, Brewer and Republicans repealed that provision and eliminated the fund, raiding it to fill a budget hole.

The court ruling only applies to Maricopa County, since it is the only region that includes a Clean Air Act court order, but the transportation fund covers all of Arizona. That translates to a restoration of only about $16.2 million per year for Maricopa County that will be restored starting on Sept. 23.

“We now need to restore the transportation funding to the entire state so that all those who depend on transit, from seniors to Arizonans with disabilities, can once again gain access to doctor appointments, grocery stores and workplaces,” said Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma (District 24).

See copy of the court ruling attached.

See story on azcentral: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2011/09/02/20110902arizona-transit-program-air-violation.html

No comments:

Post a Comment