FILE - Phoenix Airport Ride Hailing

Vehicles wait for their passengers at the Ride Share pickup point at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Phoenix.

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office released a report Thursday saying Phoenix City Council’s recently passed tax hikes on ride shares going to and from Phoenix’s airport “very likely” violate the state’s constitution.

"The Phoenix City Council is placing its policy preferences above the rights of the people to whom the government must always answer," Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. “Arizona voters clearly spoke when they overwhelmingly approved Proposition 126.”

Phoenix City Council passed the tax increases on rideshare use at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport last month despite warnings that the move was unconstitutional.

Proposition 126, approved by voters in 2018, banned local governments from imposing or increasing fees for “any service performed in this state.”

Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, filed a request under Senate Bill 1487, which requires the Attorney General’s Office to investigate local governments suspected of violating state law, thus triggering Brnovich’s investigation. 

Brnovich will also ask the Arizona Supreme Court for an expedited ruling on Phoenix's tax hikes, he said. 

“This is the most definitive way to provide clarity on the law, protect Arizona taxpayers, and hold the City of Phoenix accountable,” Brnovich added.

Mayor Kate Gallego defend the city's actions in a statement, saying its "approach of ensuring that companies profiting from the airport pay their fair share is smart – and legal."

"Lyft and Uber have been paying access fees since they began operations at Sky Harbor, the same fees they pay at most every other airport of our size," she said. "As our response demonstrated, and as AG Brnovich’s report acknowledges, Arizona state law gives cities the right to condition commercial access to airports with the payment of a fee.

Gallego added that "political pressure has led the AG to punt this issue to the Arizona Supreme Court."

Councilman Sal DiCiccio, a vocal critic of the tax increases, said “it is clear this horrible tax is not only a direct attack on working and middle class families, but it is also an outrageous violation of our constitution.” 

“I am confident that the Supreme Court will throw out the horrible burden that PHX politicians recklessly imposed,” he added.

 

Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, as an editor at The Daily Caller, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News.