Only 35% of Arizona Highways are in "Good" Condition
The last time the Arizona gas tax was increased was in 1991! While in the last two decades the number of people living in the state and the number of "lane miles" has increased dramatically as well as miles per gallon efficiency, nothing has been done to increase revenues for the improvement and maintenance of bridges and highways in Arizona. The under-investment in our infrastructure continues to hamper the state's ability to attract business and employers that will provide the well-paid jobs that our communities need.
During the great recession that started in 2009, Republicans in the legislature did two things: 1) they raided the highway user revenue fund (HURF) so that they could balance the budget, and 2) continued to cut other taxes. Highway and bridge maintenance was deferred for a period of some 8 plus years because of lack of adequate funds. According to the Herald/Review the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) estimates that Arizona is $30 billion (yes that is BILLION) short of the money needed "to fix, modernize and expand Arizona's highways over the next 25 years."
Only 35% of Arizona's highways are in "good" condition, 59% of bridges are in "good" condition. How do you feel about driving over the other 40% of bridges?
HB 2899 would incrementally raise the gasoline tax over the next three years in a total of 18 cents. Other technical changes would be made to make sure that electric vehicles would also be subject to some sort of tax or fee.
The bill is being supported by a bipartisan group in the House Transportation Committee.
Read more about this in the Herald/Review - 2-25-2020 edition.
Commentary by Bob Karp
The problem of poor roads is particularly acute in the rural counties of the state. In general we travel longer distances to on a daily basis for tasks such as commuting to work, shopping, medical care.
During my 2018 campaign for the LD14 state house I stated that I supported a 1 cent increase in the gas tax for each of the next five years, a much more modest proposal that HB 2899. Also at that time I indicated if elected, I would demand any authorizing legislation for vehicle or tax increases include language that guarantees these funds for the purpose indicated. I stand by that promise in my full support of HB 2899.
Unfortunately, Governor Ducey continues to promise "no new taxes." Our local elected state officials seem just fine with the status quo that ignores the realty on our streets. Just drive anywhere and you are constantly reminded of how short-sighted this policy is.
Proposing new taxes is never the best way to campaign for office. However, pretending there isn't a problem, is not a way to govern. It is time for new leadership.
A last thought on this. Our leaders in Phoenix always seem to have the will for big projects that benefit Maricopa county and sometimes even Pima county and the adjoining area. They work with the federal government to widen I19 or create a new beltway loop freeway. There just doesn't seem to be the urgency about the roads in rural Arizona.