The City of Phoenix is heading in the right direction. We have a strong community of residents, volunteers, staff, and city councilmembers who work hard every day to protect the quality of life for our residents. Our successes are one of the key reasons that our region is the fastest growing in the country and the Federal Transit Authority just announced an investment of $100 million in our South Central Rail Corridor.
Things are going well for Phoenix, but that all could change if several out of state, dark money interests get their way. These outside groups have perpetrated a coordinated attack on Phoenix’s future in the form of Propositions 105 and 106, which are crafted to thwart the will of the voters, tie the hands of our leaders, cut critical city services, and kill smart investments in our city’s future.
In short, Proposition 105 and Proposition 106 are bad for Phoenix and we encourage all voters to vote No on both.
Light rail has proven track record of elevating lives by connecting our communities and creating new opportunities. Of the nearly 50,000 riders each day, roughly 30 percent are headed to school and 30 percent are headed to work, and that number will only grow when planned expansions are up and running.
Over 35,000 jobs have been created within 1/2-mile of light rail since 2008 and the number of tech companies in the Phoenix Metro area has increased more than 300 percent in the last five years. Denser urban cores along the line, such as downtown Mesa, have seen significant revitalization with the first new for-sale or rental multi-family developed in over 30 years, dozens of new projects planned representing more than $500 million in investment, and increased activity at Mesa’s Downtown Arts and Innovation District.
There is no doubt that we must continue to do more to encourage affordable housing along the proposed corridors and protect the vibrancy of the impacted communities. However, there is no denying that this new connectivity is driving our economy, bringing billions of dollars in economic development, tens of thousands of jobs, and new opportunities to our city.
Proposition 105 stops all light rail construction and kills light rail plans already approved by voters three times. The light rail system and its planned extensions have been planned for over a decade, and were approved by voters in 2000, 2004, and 2015. The public has been heavily engaged in this planning effort, with more than 500 public meetings held to gather input.
Proposition 105 throws this planning out the window and permanently prohibits Phoenix from investing in any kind of rail project – including light rail, commuter rail, or other potential train connections. It turns away billions of dollars in proposed federal money dedicated to transit that is slated to come to Phoenix. Not only would tens of millions of tax dollars already invested in these approved extensions be wasted, but hundreds of millions of dollars in federal investment could skip Phoenix and go to other cities, such as Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City.
Hailed as a budgeting effort, the truth is Proposition 106 is designed for one purpose only: to slash essential services that Phoenix families rely on like our libraries, parks, and educational programming. The proposal is poorly written and deeply flawed. It has internal contradictions and mistakes, which make it unenforceable.
The fact is, Phoenix is on track to pay down all pension debt, responsibly, over the next 25 years. Phoenix is not living beyond its means, kept its budget balanced, and has managed to find a balance between providing essential services to city residents and paying down pension debt. Proposition 106 is reckless and is the equivalent of demanding a homeowner pay their entire mortgage at once.
If it passes, it will be a confusing mess held up in courts for years. It will cost the Phoenix taxpayers hundreds of thousands in legal fees, prevent investment in important programs like parks and libraries, and hinder real progress on pension reform.
With this poorly worded proposal, if another downturn hit, Phoenix would never be able to re-invest and restore services if it were forced to make cuts. These cuts themselves will hamper our economic development, creating a vicious cycle.
As you can see, Propositions 105 and 106 are nothing short of a coordinated attack on Phoenix’s future. That is why they are opposed by a wide variety of community members, non-profit organizations, neighborhood groups, workers, elected officials and business leaders from across the political spectrum.
We ask you to join us in voting No on or before August 27. To join our coalition or donate to the campaign, visit www.investinphx.org for more information.
Debra Stark and Laura Pastor, who are councilmembers of the City of Phoenix, co-chair Invest in PHX, which opposes Propositions 105 and 106