State Capitol News
Thu May 29, 2008
Transit tax may go to voters
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – Voters may get a choice in November of exactly how much they want
to tax themselves for transit improvements -- and for which
projects. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.
Business and community leaders are trying to get voters to enact
a one-cent increase in Arizona's 5.6 percent state sales tax for
30 years to raise more than $42 billion for transit projects.
Rep. Russell Pearce said he recognizes there may be a need for
more roads. But he said the problem with this is voters have to
buy the entire package, including more than $7 billion for things
like commuter and inter-city rail.
(They ought to be able to vote on what they want, not the good
and the bad. You've got to take all the bad to get the good. The
voters ought to have a decision. And they ought to be able to
isolate each segment that they want.)
His plan would hike sales taxes by a half cent for 20 years, with
all of the money going to road projects. Marty Shultz, a lobbyist
for Arizona Public Service and organizer of the initiative, said
separating the issues of roads and mass transit would be a
(This isn't about being forced to accept all or nothing. This is
about a comprehensive plan that has connectivity planned into
Shultz needs the signatures of more than 153,000 registered
voters to qualify for the ballot. Pearce is going the alternate
route, hoping to get enough support in the House and Senate to
put the issue before voters in November.
For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.