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.