Business groups across Arizona are calling on the state Legislature to pass legislation today that would allow Maricopa County voters to choose whether to extend the county sales tax that funds transportation projects.
After several weeks of negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, the state House and Senate are set to act on SB 1102, which would extend the half-cent tax for 20 years should Maricopa County voters pass it. Voters first approved the tax in 1985 and extended it for 20 years in 2004 when they passed Proposition 400.
In a letter to state legislators, the business group coalition wrote, “This legislation has greatly improved through bipartisan negotiations between the Governor’s Office and legislative leadership, providing even more accountability of how the dollars are spent and includes key taxpayer protections. It will allow Maricopa County voters to choose whether to continue funding for transportation infrastructure improvements, associated maintenance, and modern technologies that support Arizona jobs and help make Arizona attractive to businesses.”
Negotiations have been ongoing since Hobbs in June vetoed a measure that would have put two separate questions on the county ballot: one dealing with roads and highways and another dealing with light rail.
The coalition members say that a renewal of the funding stream is necessary for the region to maintain its economic competitiveness and to keep pace with the rapid grow it has experienced in the last decades. Maricopa County is the country’s fastest growing, and the state has grown by more than 2 million residents in the past 20 years.
In a July 26 opinion column, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said, “The region needs modern, dependable infrastructure to get us where we need to go and to ensure that we remain a logistics hub to move freight and capture the jobs that come with it.”
Seiden says the Chamber has made passage of the bill a priority.
“The Chamber supports policy that enhances the state’s economic competitiveness,” Seiden said. “This bill is the product of significant bipartisan negotiation and has resulted in a good deal for the entire region and its taxpayers, and will ensure that the area remains attractive to business investment. Maricopa County voters deserve a chance to vote on it.”
The business community letter is as follows:
Dear Members of the Arizona Legislature,
Our organizations, which represent hundreds of thousands of hardworking Arizonans across multiple industry sectors, urge you to vote yes on Senate Bill 1102: transportation excise tax; Maricopa County.
This legislation has greatly improved through bipartisan negotiations between the Governor’s Office and legislative leadership, providing even more accountability of how the dollars are spent and includes key taxpayer protections. It will allow Maricopa County voters to choose whether to continue funding for transportation infrastructure improvements, associated maintenance, and modern technologies that support Arizona jobs and help make Arizona attractive to businesses.
Maricopa County is currently the fastest-growing county in the nation and Arizona’s population has grown by more than 2 million in the past 20 years. Thankfully, with the approval of voters, Proposition 400 has allowed for the investment in the construction of new freeway miles and new streets during this period of incredible growth. Now, with Proposition 400 nearing its expiration date it is imperative that voters be given the opportunity to choose whether to continue the investments that will keep our region at the forefront of economic growth and prosperity.
Senate Bill 1102 provides Maricopa County with the legislative authorization to place this proposition extension on its county-wide ballot. County voters will have the final say whether the funding stream should continue.
• It puts protection in so that people can use the vehicles, and or mode of transportation of their choice.
• No political jurisdiction could ban the sale of a vehicle depending on its energy source, including internal combustion engines.
• Ensures certain modalities won’t be a drain on public resources.
Preparing for the future
Over the previous decades, businesses and residents of this region have depended on this funding for the completion of various transportation projects including freeways, roads and transit that have kept our economy strong. Its continuation will sustain our growth, reduce congestion, keep roadways safe, and enhance economic development, while relieving pressure on state-level transportation funding that other counties count on.
We are grateful for the leadership of our legislators who have worked to ensure our region’s economic competitiveness and have remained determined to craft this plan for the consideration of Maricopa County voters.
We respectfully urge you to vote yes on Senate Bill 1102.
American Council of Engineering Companies
Arizona Association of Realtors
Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association
Arizona Manufacturers Council
Arizona Small Business Association
Arizona Society of Professional Engineers
Arizona Technology Council
Arizona Trucking Association
Associated General Contractors of American – Arizona Chapter
East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance
Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Greater Phoenix Economic Council
PHX East Valley Partnership
West Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance
Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Association of Arizona