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Proposition 104 benefits insiders and special interests at taxpayers’ expense

Scot Mussi

Scot Mussi

If you only listened to supporters of Proposition 104, it would be difficult to know what the $30 billion transit tax initiative is really about. Even the ballot language written by the city tries to hide the fact that Prop 104 nearly doubles the transit sales tax over the next 35 years, a multibillion dollar tax hike to fund light rail expansion that Phoenix residents can ill afford.

But the massive tax hike is only one reason why Prop 104 should be rejected by Phoenix voters. As written, Prop 104 is a blank check for City Hall that allows insiders and politically connected special interests to cash in at taxpayers’ expense.

One of the most glaring problems with Prop 104 is how the initiative discriminates against driving motorists at the expense of light rail. Multiple transit studies have shown that the preferred method of transportation for over 97% of Phoenix residents is the automobile. Yet the plan as drafted intends to spend 90% of the projected revenue on expanded bus and rail service and only 8% on street improvements. This funding imbalance is completely unfair and does not serve the interests of Phoenix taxpayers.

Additionally, the proposed plan lacks the basic accountability and oversight that taxpayers should expect from our elected leaders.  In fact, the initiative is so poorly written that there is no requirement that any of the proposed projects in the plan even get built.

Instead, Prop 104 provides the city with unlimited flexibility on the types of transit projects get funded and when. If a future city council or staff decides to change the plan or deny funding for certain street improvements that were promised, voters will not be able to stop them. A likely result will be that entire sections of the city could lose out on transit funding to politically connected insiders at City Hall. How the money is spent will be up to the politicians to decide, not you.

The lack of transparency and accountability tied to this tax increase was by design.  They could have included protections on how the money was spent or oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. They chose not to, because the City wants your money but with no corresponding strings attached.

Voters in Phoenix would be wise to take a stand against this giveaway and vote no on Prop 104.

— Scot Mussi is president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club.

8 comments

  1. Dr Thomas K McCarthy PhD

    All you have to do is look at the signage and the glossy mailer – a lot of politicians, union bosses, etc. are going to making a lot of money off this.
    Vote NO.

  2. Our biggest traffic problem in Phoenix is the rush hour freeway congestion. This plan spends 30 billion dollars and does nothing to alleviate this congestion. The billions that the plan spends on rail is the most wasteful. The future of transit is individual transit, not mass transit. The plan spends billions in promoting a 19th Century solution to 21st Century problems.

  3. What you should know about PROP 104 – “MovePHX”

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    BY DUANE ENGDAHL, PRECINCT COMMITTEEMAN IN ARIZONA LD-20

    Mandalay Precinct, Phoenix Arizona — Phoenix City Council Members Waring, Diciccio, Gates, and Phoenix Mayoral Candidate Brennan briefed the Arizona LD-20 committee on upcoming Proposition 104 called “MovePHX” recently. If passed, this proposition would be a huge transportation spending bill our elected representative s could do nothing about, and it would fund the expansion of the Phoenix Metro light rail system over the next 30 years as all the several beneficiaries’ desire; the cost of which according to Candidate Brennan would exceed $30 Billion.

    Greetings my name is Duane Engdahl and I am an ordinary concerned citizen and a committeeman in the Mandalay Precinct of north central Phoenix. I was at the LD-20 meeting where I learned the details on this proposition, and I was shocked and much motivated to inform all my constituents on this important matter. After independently verifying the facts surrounding this proposition, I strongly advise the citizens of Phoenix to vote NO on this proposition at the upcoming election on August 24th, and here’s why:

    Of all the millions of trips taken by Phoenix residents on a typical day in the valley of the sun — be it by walking, biking, driving, taxi, bus, light rail, or what have you — less than 1% of these trips are by light rail. That means light rail serves less than 1% of the populous, and it also means 100% of us are taxed to provide a service to the 1% — to say the least, that is unfair and absurd! And since light rail is federally subsidized, all the people in our nation are taxed to provide this service to those very few who use it.

    The MovePHX proposition, if passed would cost taxpayers about $31 Billion according to candidate Brennen. Currently Valley Metro has 20 miles of light rail in place, much of which is located outside of Phoenix, let’s say about half. So tripling the 10 miles of light rail line in Phoenix would add about 20 miles to make 30. Other neighboring cities including Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Tempe, Mesa, etc. would presumably fund their own extensions.
    We know from experience that the actual cost to build a mile of the light rail line in the past was about $70 Million. Of course, construction costs have gone up since then, so let’s be conservative and double that to $140 Million per mile for future construction. At this doubled rate, 20 miles of new light rail line in Phoenix would cost about $2.8 billion.
    So the obvious question is this: Why do the proponents of Proposition 104 feel the need for $31 billion? The answer they will give is that they are going to do “ALL OF THE ABOVE” while pointing to a long list of public transportation improvements that sound good on the surface. In order to justify the $28.2 billion of excessive taxation ($31 less 2.8), the pushers of proposition 104 are trying to make you believe they are going to solve each and every possible transportation problem that might arise during next thirty years.

    Maybe you think differently than me, but I am always a little suspicious whenever someone tells me that all the future problems will be solved in one felled swoop. Most reasonable people think specific problems should be solved with specific solutions as they arise, and that giving bureaucrats all the funding they want, for solving any and all the problems that might arise in the distant future is foolish. Besides most of the problems they have put in their “all of the above wish list” are covered by existing budgets, so no new funding should be necessary in the first place.
    For those of who have not learned it yet, let me be the first to teach you that whenever you give bureaucrats money, no matter the amount, they will always find a way to spend it all, and then some.

    CONSIDER THIS ABOUT METRO LIGHT RAIL – In Phoenix, the Metro light rail fares cover only 24% of operating costs [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Light_Rail_(Phoenix)], so taxpayers subsidize the remaining 76%, plus they also pay 100% of construction costs. Anybody with an iota of common sense should realize that an enterprise which operates at a 76% loss needs to be immediately shut down and restructured. Even a non-profit enterprise needs to operate such that it makes ends meet while paying down its capitalization. But Phoenix Metro operates at a huge loss and it has no hope of ever paying down its capitalization. So anybody who thinks that Phoenix Metro operating on its current business plan should be expanded is a management moron.

    CONSIDER THIS ABOUT $31 BILLION – The MovePHX proposition, if passed will give bureaucrats in Phoenix $31 Billion to play with as they wish. Yes I say play with because the proposition uses the word “may” to describe all the potential expenditures. So what we taxpayers can expect for our money will be only what they want to give us, which you can count on will be not very much. Most of the excessive billions will go to bloated bureaucratic salaries and their even more bloated pensions.
    WHAT ELSE COULD BE DONE WITH $31 BILLION? — Currently in Phoenix, the population is 1.5 million souls, but the number who old enough to move about town is, according to [https://suburbanstats.org/population/arizona/how-many-people-live-in-phoenix], 733,383. If we divide $31 Billion by 733,383 we get $42,269 for each move-about adult in Phoenix. That’s enough to give every one of them a new micro car plus a $30,000 gas card. Be honest now, wouldn’t that be far more useful to them than another 20 miles of light rail that goes to nowhere from nowhere? Of course it would! Yes of course is ludicrous to think that it is the job of government to give away cars and gas cards, but is it not even more ludicrous to think that government should take money from its citizens for something as useless as light rail?

    WHAT ABOUT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES WHO RIDE LIGHT RAIL FREE? Well at the risk of sounding overly reasonable, I contend that they should pay for their rides just like everybody else does.

    PLEASE BE A GOOD CITIZEN – ON AUGUST 24TH VOTE NO ON PROPOSTION 104.
    If you agree with me, then please talk to your neighbors about this – this is a proposition that needs to be killed.

    ###

  4. What percentage of our population has ever used light rail? How many use it regularly? New taxes always benefit politicians and hurt citizens. NO!!

  5. A 0.7 point increase on a 9.3 percent tax brings it to 10% That is more than a whopping 7.5% increase in our sales tax rate (0.7/9.3 = 7.52688172043011%). Really now, do all we in Phoenix want to suffer that kind of tax increase on the stuff we will be buying over the next 35 years, in order to give more light rail to the 1% who actually use it? VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 104 AKA MOVEPHX.

  6. Roy Miller, ADOT is responsible for the State Routes not the City of Phoenix.

    The light rail has also spurred 8 billion in economic development into DT Phoenix. Also this is a tax hike of 3/10 of 1%.

  7. Two years later I think we can all agree, this tax served no good for the citizens.

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