Buying Dollars for $45.50 each

Our light rail cheerleader in chief, the Arizona Republic, laments that if Proposition 203 does not make it to the ballot this November, "light rail [in Phoenix & Maricopa County] will lose a chance to win hundreds of millions of dollars for the system's expansion".

Well, let's think about that.  The proposition would raise $42.6 billion statewide through a 1% point increase in the state sales tax rate.  But here's the rub:  Phoenix and Maricopa County constitute a huge part of the state's population, and presumably, retail spending.  In fact, checking the most recent Arizona state tax facts (for May, 2008), we find that Maricopa County pays about 64% of the state sales tax.  That means that approximately $27.3 Billion of that $42.6 billion in new taxes will be paid right here in the Phoenix metropolitan area. 

Good grief.  So, with a tax increase of $27.3 billion in Phoenix, we can get $0.6 billion back from the state for our light rail boondoggle.  Gee, thanks.  That hardly sounds like my definition of "winning" money.

By the way, this was hilarious:

Ziemba believes that Proposition 203 would have an "extremely significant" impact on light rail expansion if it becomes law.

"This would be the funding to really take our light rail system to
the next level, to expand it to more roots, to connect it to more of
the county," he said. "It will provide the resources to connect the
light rail system in a meaningful way throughout Maricopa County."

Why is that so funny?  Well, because the next $306 million in light rail spending is expected to get us 3.2 whole miles of track.  So at this rate, this $27.3 billion tax increase would net us $600 million which would, before inevitable cost overruns, get us at most 6.5 miles of track.  Wow, that sure sounds meaninful to me.

  • http://www.raygardner.typepad.com/ Ray G

    Regardless of whether or not the war in Iraq was the right thing to do, I really wish Charles Goyette, would have refrained from the stance that he took.

    He relegated himself to the lunatic fringe, and now only the political junkie types around here remember him.

    This was the kind of thing he could wage effective war against when he still had the power of Clear Channel behind him.

  • Allen

    So you're saying you want Maricopa County to enact it's own 1% sales tax dedicated to light rail, eh? ;)

    Why is there suddenly a needed to spend tens of billions on transportation in Arizona?

  • http://www.tinyvital.com/blog John Moore

    Ack! That isn't funny! It's MY MONEY!

    I didn't know about this 1% increase in state sales tax. Let's see, isn't that about a 15% tax increase? Ouch!

    But at least I can watch the light rail construction put people out of business in my rare trips to where it takes place.

    And I live near the center of the metroplex.

    Sigh.

    Oh, and on another subject, see this.

  • Roy Lofquist

    Simple solution. Promote Robert Robb, the best reporter in Arizona and probably the US, to editor in chief. Won't solve everything but the level of discourse would be immeasurably improved.

  • pino

    Have you seen this guy discuss transportation?

    http://www.reason.org/outofcontrol/index.rdf