The organizer of a proposed permanent one-cent hike in state sales taxes on Tuesday defended earmarking 10 percent of the proceeds for road construction.
Ann-Eve Pedersen said Arizona has cut state aid to education in the last five years more than any other state. She said Proposition 204 would provide needed tax dollars the Legislature cannot take. If approved, the measure would initially raise $1 billion a year. But 10 percent automatically goes for roads. Pedersen said that is justified.
"If you look at Dr. Lee McPheters or Dennis Hoffman at ASU in the Carey School, they say that Arizona, to be competitive, must invest in two main things," Pedersen said. "Those are our education system and our transportation infrastructure system."
McPheters could not be reached. But Hoffman said neither he nor his colleague have ever said those are THE top priorities to promote development.
"It certainly would be an investment in education," McPheters said. "It also would be transportation. I think transportation infrastructure would be absolutely key to economic development in the state. It's broader than that. It's energy, water, telecommunications, you know."
Contractors have provided more than a third of the cash to run the Prop 204 campaign. But Pedersen denied any link between that money and the decision to guarantee a share of the proceeds for road construction.