State Capitol News
Thu July 3, 2008
New Road Tax on Ballot
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – Backers of a plan to hike state sales taxes for new roads and transit improvements have filed their signatures to get the question on the November ballot. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.
The measure would boost the state's sales taxes by one cent, to
6.6 percent to raise more than $42 billion over the next 30
years. More than half of that is earmarked for freeways and other
state roads identified as priorities. Cities, counties and tribes
would divide up another $8.5 billion. And there is more than $7.6
billion for mass transit, with the lion's share of that for
proposed rail service between Tucson and Phoenix -- and perhaps
beyond to Prescott. Campaign manager Tom Ziemba acknowledged that
additional penny tax translates into an 18 percent increase at a
time when the economy is in a slump and unemployment is rising.
But he doesn't see that as a problem.
(We think people will be willing to pay one penny more in their
sales tax to get transportation options, to get themselves out of
their car and having to pay $4-plus a gallon for gas, to have
rail options, to have other commuter options and to have new and
improved highways and local roads so that they're not stuck in
traffic and they're spending the time doing the things they want
to do in life.)
Opposition is coming from some lawmakers who question the need
for more taxes and say if that's going to occur less should be
spent on mass transit. But the Sierra Club is opposing it for
exactly the opposite reason: Too much cash for roads.
For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.