Phoenix Mayor Advocates Self-Reliance Due to Federal Gridlock

Frustrated with Congress' inability to fund a six-year transportation bill, Mayor Greg Stanton is backing an August sales tax measure to expand light rail. Stanton also discusses climate change and water rights in the article and accompanying videos

June 29, 2015, 8:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


With transit ridership on the rise and vehicle miles traveled having peaked in 2007, Democrat Mayor Greg Stanton, elected in 2011, is backing an August vote to increase the city sales tax to improve transportation in the nation's sixth largest city, though he calls it the fifth in the a wide-ranging,  25-minute interview with James Hohmann of The Washington Post that includes renewable energy, urban growth and coping with the drought. It includes Q&A with the audience.

Most importantly, he said that cities can't count on the financial help from Washington, D.C. that they city enjoyed in the past, which is the central topic of this "PowerPost."

"Historically, he said, a city like Phoenix could count on the federal government to pick up 75 to 80 percent of the cost," writes Hohmann. "He’s working on the assumption that they will only put forward about 30 percent – “if we’re lucky.”

After the City Council approved a 30-year "$30 billion wish list" on March 3, "residents will vote as soon as August on a 0.70 percent sales tax...that would be in place from 2016 through 2050 to fund transportation," wrote Brenna Goth of The Arizona Republic.

Phoenix's current transit sales tax of 0.4 percent, approved by 65 percent of Phoenix voters in 2000, will expire in 2020.

The proposed plan includes up to 117 miles of new high-capacity transit like light rail, bus rapid transit or streetcars. About $2.4 billion would help maintain major city streets while adding new bicycle lanes and street lights.

Climate change

"Phoenix is becoming increasingly urban, and Stanton wants to plan for the long term and to prepare for climate change," writes Hohmann. Climate change and water rights can by accessed directly in a short, second video on the interview.

Statewide, it’s definitely a hard sell,” he said, noting that Arizona is a Republican-leaning state. “Whether people conveniently or otherwise may not want to believe in climate change, it’s real … and we better get on top of it.” 

Water wars?

"One thing we can't allow to occur is to have our friends in Southern California have access to water that rightfully belongs to the people of Arizona," he tells Hohmann.

Reelection?

Both the transportation sales tax and the mayoral election will be held on August 25. A prediction has already been made as to the outcome on one of those votes.

Hat tip: by Katie Pearce of Streetsblog USA.

Thursday, June 25, 2015 in The Washington Post

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