NewsOperation Safe Roads


Maricopa Association of Governments tosses ideas to fund transportation projects

road work traffic road closure AP
Posted at 9:33 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 01:27:13-04

A group, trying to extend a transportation sales tax to help pay for the projects, is coming together Wednesday to discuss their next game plan.

Construction is underway around many roads and intersections throughout Maricopa County.

"They were doing the traffic when we first moved in. They've been tearing this whole street up,” said Ross Niemann.

Niemann lives in Phoenix along Van Buren Street.

The completion of road work there, Ross says, will make things smoother for drivers.

"At the moment, it's been difficult. We come out here every day and Galveston Parkway is closed. So, we must loop around,” added Niemann.

Since 2004, construction projects like the one on Van Buren Street have been partially funded by a half-cent sales tax in Maricopa County. Voters first approved the tax in 1985.

Ross believes road improvement projects all around him are necessary.

"People like to take advantage of the outdoors when the weather is good. So, making sure this area is easily accessible is important. Money has to come from somewhere,” added Niemann.

Several leaders in the Valley crafted a bill to extend the transportation sales tax to help pay for more projects.

Governor Doug Ducey however vetoed the bill this month citing inflation and other concerns.

In a letter, the governor wrote in part, “Now, with inflation higher than it has been in 40 years, is not the time to ask voters in Arizona to tax themselves.”

Funding from the current measure is set to expire in a few years. An extension to the sales tax can always end up on the ballot later on, but not this year.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said, in a statement, “The governor is treating our voters like children, rather than affording us the opportunity to make our own decisions."

Whether funding from the tax continues through 2025, or not is unclear.

But, as for the immediate next steps to figure out a path going forward, a possible solution will be discussed Wednesday morning.

"As a homeowner, I will pay more because I want this area to keep increasing in value,” added Niemann.

Full statement from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego:

“Cities have identified over $90 billion in project needs. The Prop 400 extension - had it been allowed to come to the ballot - would have funded an estimated $36 billion over the next 25 years.

This is not a new tax. The bill the governor vetoed simply proposed the extension of an existing tax, and would have placed the decision in the hands of the people of Maricopa County. The governor is treating our voters like children, rather than affording us the opportunity to make our own decisions.

This legislation had the support of every mayor (republican and democrat) in the greater Phoenix metro area, and of tribal leaders in Maricopa County. This formidable group put years of work into this bipartisan, sustainable, proposal. It also had strong bipartisan support of Arizona House and Senate leaders.

The excuses the governor puts forth in his veto letter are strained, at best. None of these concerns were shared by the governor’s office during the past few years of forming the legislation.

As the nation’s fastest growing large metro area, there’s no other option but to meet the needs of the greater community. Cities are resilient and will be working collaboratively to identify next steps and new paths forward. We will find a way forward to fund our regions critical infrastructure needs.”