After years of debate, the Arizona Senate approved a $5.3 billion gas-tax hike Monday, sending the state’s budget to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Senate President Steve Pierce said he’d sign it, but would not vote for a similar increase for the state budget.
Arizona’s gas tax is the highest in the country, and some have suggested the governor should use the money to reduce gas prices for consumers.
But the measure would leave the state with a $3.6 billion deficit, which will leave lawmakers scrambling to find revenue and other cuts.
“It’s really a shame that it was the wrong move in the beginning,” said Sen. David Yost, a Democrat.
The Senate voted 24-10 to approve the gas tax increase, but Sen. Joe Carr, a Republican from Scottsdale, had a separate proposal on the table.
He said he had not yet seen the bill but that the governor could sign it as soon as he saw it.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey holds a press conference on a new state gas tax bill on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 in Phoenix.
Carr said he expected the governor to sign the bill, which he said would be the largest gas tax boost in state history.
A bill to raise the gas taxes for businesses passed the Senate last month, but a bill to boost them for people and businesses passed unanimously in the House.
Sen. Richard Hanna, R-Lake Havasu City, said he thought the gas increase was a good idea, but it should have been an even bigger boost.
“I think it was an important one, but I don’t think it made sense to add to the $5 million,” Hanna said.
Arizonans will also see the first state gas taxes since the recession.
The state’s gas taxes were increased from 5.5 cents per gallon in 2017 to 6.3 cents this year, which is an average of 2.8 cents per mile.
The increase will go into effect on Jan. 1.
In 2018, Arizona will be the first jurisdiction in the nation to enact a sales tax increase.
The measure was passed by the Arizona Legislature in 2018 and has a range of benefits for Arizonans, including: Reducing the number of jobs that would be lost by raising gas prices, reducing economic uncertainty, improving consumer choices, and increasing tax revenue for the government.
President Donald Trump has suggested that a gas tax would help the U.S. compete in the global economy.
Trump has also said that he will support Arizona’s new tax, saying it would create millions of new jobs.
House Speaker Steve Montenegro, R, also voted to approve an increase for 2018.
However, Montenegro said he was open to discussing changes to the tax in the future.
Republican leaders say the gas-stamp hike will not be a problem for Arizans.
Some Republicans have questioned the governor and have called on him to reconsider.
State Sen. Kevin Yee, R., a former chief of staff to President Donald Trump, told the Arizona Republic newspaper he thinks the gas bill is a mistake.
I think they need to do a little more research,” Yee said.