Ability360 is a not-for-profit organization that empowers people with disabilities with knowledge and skills to participate in community life, including working, volunteering, shopping, recreating, worshiping, and enjoying Phoenix. Propositions 105 and 106 are seriously flawed initiatives that should be rejected, not just for the individuals we work with, but for all Phoenix citizens.
Ability360 was one of the groups cited in last week’s op-ed “Many groups urge Phoenix voters to reject anti-light rail Prop. 105” by Diane E. Brown with Arizona PIRG. While we completely agree with the piece, we also want to add more from our perspective.
We strongly oppose Prop. 105, the anti-light rail initiative, that would terminate all construction, development, extension or expansion of, or improvements to the Phoenix light rail system that Phoenix voters approved on three separate occasions in 2000, 2004 and 2015.
Light rail is essential to a balanced transportation plan and will help serve the more than two million people moving to the Valley in the next 12-15 years. It supports 45,000 riders each day, connecting them to work, school and entertainment. It spurs job growth and economic development, while also providing community-wide health benefits.
We must continue to invest in light rail. High-capacity transit is the most effective way to move large numbers of people in one of the nation’s fastest growing cities. We should be proud of the transportation network we have built, especially light rail. Lower-income families, those without cars, seniors or individuals with disabilities rely on light rail and other forms of public transportation to get to work, job training programs, college, services, health care, local businesses and places of worship.
If Prop. 105 is approved, Phoenix could lose upwards of $5 billion in federal and regional monies dedicated to rail projects. We would lose the money to other cities in this region and the U.S. This misguided initiative could also impact the region’s air quality plan and the federal funds associated with pollution reduction efforts. It could also impact the region’s ability to renew upcoming transportation funding and maintain the system we have today.
Prop. 106 is also a misguided initiative. The initiative is poorly written, contains contradictions, and if it passes, is bound to end up in the courts and cost taxpayers for years to come.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Prop. 106 would basically cut funding for libraries and parks and support for those experiencing homelessness. These places are among the locations to learn, volunteer and participate in community life. These city services are important for individuals and families we work with and for many other Phoenix citizens. And under Prop. 106, Phoenix would essentially be unable to re-establish these services if the economy experiences a downturn.
Phoenix has come a long way over the past decade. To keep Phoenix moving forward, to provide the opportunity for more transportation options, and to help ensure valuable city services, please don’t support reckless and unnecessary funding cuts! We urge you to vote “no” on Propositions 105 & 106.
Phil Pangrazio is president and CEO of Ability 360.