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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The Marty Schultz Experience

After all of these months, or is it years, of meetings and work Marty Schultz has finally reported on a statewide transportation plan.

Schultz has been working on developing a plan and a mechanism to fund it as part of some group called the "TIME Coalition" (Transportation & Infrastructure Moving AZ's Economy.) TIME and the Governor's Office have just announced that they will seek to place a plan on the state November 2008 ballot with possible funding sources including a 1-cent hike in the sales tax and increased impact fees.

Personally, I think the odds of a ballot initiative linked to a tax increase passing in this economy has about as much of a chance as the AZ Republic running a story critical of Governor Napolitano. However Mr. Schultz worked hard on this project so I have some questions for him. Note I haven't seen the actual proposal, in fact I cannot even find TIME's Web site, a free beer at Sonoran is on me to the person who can supply the goods, so I'm going on what is reported in the paper.

1) I noticed in the paper, that TIME's proposal will include funding for things like street cars in Tucson and rapid-transit buses. Why should a state-wide sales tax be imposed to pay for local transportation infrastructure?

2) As a Phoenix resident I already pay higher sales taxes to 2 jurisdictions, to Maricopa County and City of Phoenix, for increased transportation services. Those services include bus service, light rail, and highways. Will other counties and municipalities be forced to hike their local sales tax to provide a corresponding local match to any revenue generated by the state tax for similar services in their areas?

3) If the answer to question #2 is no, will you be prepared to propose that the 2004 county-wide transportation plan that Maricopa voters passed with a 1/2 cent sales tax be amended so that taxpayers like myself wouldn't be paying for projects with local tax money that other parts of Arizona are getting paid for by state taxes?

4) Your proposal seems to support light rail. I seem to remember that in 2004 when the Maricopa transportation plan was on the ballot, there were provisions that the light rail expansion component would not be implemented if the 20-miles starter line did not meet certain metrics. As light rail is still an unproven concept in any Arizona city, why does this proposal include the second expansion of an unproven system?

5) For all the faults of the 2004 Maricopa plan developed by MAAG, at least the resultant Regional Transportation Plan was developed and published almost 12 months before the November 2004 ballot. It is less than 7 months before the November 2008 and I cannot find a copy of TIME's plan or even TIME's web site anywhere. Given that this is an estimated $42 billion project, when did TIME plan on releasing details to the public? There must be a plan somewhere. I have read that TIME has contracted with a PR firm but seemingly, even in 2008, cannot even put the plan on a Web site. Is it because the proposal still remains in "flux?" Given that TIME is planning to file with the Secretary of State's Office in a few weeks and begin to gather signatures.... when will it be finalized?