On Friday, Jan. 16, Governor Doug Ducey released his Executive Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2016. During his State of the State speech on the previous Monday, Governor Ducey alluded to the fact his budget proposal would protect public safety and education.
As a citizen and public safety employee, this was certainly welcome news considering the Department of Public Safety has been subject to stagnating, and even in some cases reduced budgets, over the past six fiscal years.
Governor Ducey’s proposal would include redirecting existing vehicle registration fee, currently at $8 per vehicle, to the state highway patrol fund. Additionally, his proposal would allow the director of the department of transportation to increase the vehicle registration fee to $15.
This small increase would provide a dedicated funding source for highway patrol activities throughout the state.
The main purpose of this part of Governor Ducey’s plan, is to not only create a dedicated funding stream for public safety, but also to relieve pressure from recent shifts in the Highway User Revenue Fund; shifts the legislature created in order to maintain adequate funding to DPS during budget cuts to the state’s General Fund.
Over the past several years, the legislature has “shifted” as much as $120 million per fiscal year to DPS in order to adequately fund statewide public safety activities. This took money from HURF recipients; cities and counties who rely on HURF funding for transportation infrastructure needs. We all know the importance of adequate infrastructure to support Arizona’s growth.
With that comes the need to have adequate staffing within DPS to patrol the highways and provide law enforcement services statewide. Restoring HURF monies would provide much needed funding to cities and counties for transportation infrastructure needs.
Governor Ducey’s plan makes sense. Instituting a small increase in the vehicle registration fee would provide a long term, positive impact on public safety funding.
The Arizona Highway Patrol Association believes Governor Ducey’s plan for setting up a dedicated funding source for patrol functions within DPS is a key to the long term success of the agency, and the citizens of Arizona. For a state police agency that consumes less than 5 percent of the state’s budget, adequate funding to maintain proper public safety services for the citizens of Arizona is paramount. Governor Ducey understands this.
Editor’s note: Mr. Chavez is president of the Arizona Higway Patrol Association