Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Budget plan includes photo enforcement of speed limits

Senate leaders’ budget plan includes having the Arizona Department of Public Safety use photo enforcement of highway speed limits, an initiative that a critic said should be named “Janet Cams” to recognize Gov. Janet Napolitano’s role in proposing it.

One of several bills to implement the Senate leaders’ budget plan would set $165 fines for state photo enforcement citations. Those fines would not be subject to normal surcharges except for a 10 percent add-on required under a voter-approved law on public campaign financing.

Also, the state would not consider photo speed enforcement citations in determining whether a driver’s license should be revoked or suspended.

The budget plan specifies that $26.5 million from citations would be used to cover costs of the DPS, courts and a contractor. It also says any money left over would go into the state general fund, but there’s no figure in the budget for how much that would be.

Senate President Tim Bee, R-Tucson, said that’s because it’s not known in advance how much money would be raised. “It’s unpredictable,” he said.

Napolitano included $90 million in revenue from photo enforcement in her January budget proposal but lawmakers and others derided the figure as unrealistically high based on the number of cameras and citations expected to be involved.

Napolitano first publicly advocated statewide use of the technology roughly a year earlier as a means of improving public safety, well before the state fell into fiscal hard times.

Citing reduced speed and accident rates on a Scottsdale stretch of the Loop 101 freeway monitored by cameras, Napolitano in early 2007 ordered the Department of Public Safety to start planning a statewide program.

However, legislative critics have criticized the initiative as being designed to raise money for the state.

Republican Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City unsuccessfully proposed naming the system as “Janet Cams — Smile and Pay Up.”

The DPS is evaluating bids submitted under a request for proposals using 100 or more cameras, both in mobile units and at fixed locations.

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