Arizona’s Transportation Funding Problem: 'We Lack The Political Will To Do Something'

Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 6:32pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 10:10am

When city and state leaders try to woo companies to move to Arizona they often tout our transportation system.

We’re close to Mexico and west coast markets and our highways and roads are fairly new compared to many other large, metro areas. But, some say our economic development efforts could take a hit if we don’t change the way we fund transportation.

When you buy a gallon a gas 18 cents goes to the state to fund transportation projects. That amount has stayed the same for more than 20 years while cars have become more fuel efficient.

By 2040, Eric Anderson, transportation director with the Maricopa Association of Governments, estimates the region will need more than $15 billion to cover freeway and highway costs.

During MAG’s meeting Tuesday, Anderson laid out options to help cover new projects and maintain others. They include higher drivers’ license fees, vehicle, registration fees, and higher sales, gas or property taxes.

“There’s no lack of ideas out there in terms of what to do. I think, quite frankly, we lack the political will to do something,” he said. “Other states really across the country, including relatively conservative states like Wyoming and Utah have done substantial increases in both the gas tax as well as providing alternative sources of revenue for transportation.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill creating a transportation task force. The group is reviewing needs and trying to find solutions for revenue shortfalls. Its recommendations are due this December.

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