Taking A Peak Inside the Sausage Factory

Our governor is pushing for a one percentage point increase in the state sales tax as well as increased developer impact fees to fund a series of transportation projects.  Like most modern transportation bills, they are sold as a way to improve state road and highway capacity (something most people support), but it turns out that these projects are but window-dressing. Much of the money in the proposed bill goes to a series of dubious mass transit projects, including the oft-discussed mythical passenger rail line between Tucson and Phoenix.  None of these projects make sense in spread out, low density cities like Phoenix or Tucson that have no real city core, which is why they face a lot of opposition.

Well, our governor has cut a deal to try to get more support for her pet projects, and boy does it look ugly:

Some Republican
state lawmakers on Monday blasted a "backroom deal" between Gov. Janet
Napolitano and a Valley home-builders group that would exempt
residential developers from sharing a portion of the costs of a major
transportation initiative in exchange for a $100,000 contribution to
boost the signature-gathering campaign.

Under the agreement, the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona
agreed to withdraw their opposition to a state trust-land initiative
backed by Napolitano. In return, developer impact fees would no longer
be part of the transportation initiative's approach to raising money.


  1. Randy in Arizona:

    Is this sort of crap an impeachable offense?

    I wonder how much of this pork type spending could be avoided by prohibiting the names of the responsible politicians from appearing on any plaques blaming the officials in office at the time of the project building?

  2. Mesa Econoguy:

    Is this sort of crap an impeachable offense?


  3. Matthew Brown:

    At least Orange County, CA's Measure M (half-cent sales tax for transportation) has produced a reasonable level of roadway improvements, both freeways and local streets, and public transportation funding has included real improvements in the bus service - the one actually needed by people who rely on public transportation. Some has gone to fund Metrolink heavy-rail services, and it is very hard to find an easy breakdown on the county's site as to how much has actually been spent on what, but at least it's had results we can see.

    The amusing thing is what killed light rail development in Orange County is tourism rivalry between the cities. The cities that get the tourists didn't want any transportation system built that would encourage tourists to leave and spend their money anywhere else. This was especially true for Anaheim, because many Disneyland visitors don't rent a car. The buses aren't really that appealing for tourists, but a light rail system might have been.