Monday, October 27, 2008

AFP: Tired of tax increases for light rail? The tide may be turning...

Dear Arizona Taxpayer:

On October 8, I participated in a Project Vote Smart debate on the future of Arizona transportation policy.

My opponent was Si Schorr, chairman of the state Board of Transportation, and the debate was about the framework of the now-defunct TIME Initiative: “Should voters approve an initiative on the general election ballot to increase the state sales tax by one cent per dollar to raise $42 billion over 30 years for transportation needs?”

I argued the following:

1) Arizona does not need any tax increase for the purpose of funding transportation infrastructure;

2) if we do go with a tax, we do not need a statewide tax; and,

3) if we do go with a tax, the sales tax is among the worst taxes to increase.

I won the debate (at least, as measured by the votes of the audience), which is interesting, given that the debate took place in Tucson. At the risk of repeating myself (I did say “Tucson”), it was a mostly Democratic audience, many of whom have strong concerns about environmental protection. The fact that I won the debate may be an indication (along with the low poll numbers for the TIME Initiative) that the conversation about transportation policy in Arizona is beginning to shift in the direction of privatization, and away from the traditional system of tax financing, in which billions of tax dollars are wasted on dead-end projects such as light rail.

My prepared remarks are available in PDF format here:

Thanks to Project Vote Smart for hosting the debate, and to Mark Kimble of the Tucson Citizen for moderating. For a schedule of future debate topics, contact Richard Kimball at Project Vote Smart, rkvotesmart @

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
(Arizona Federation of Taxpayers)
(602) 478-0146

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