Does Jeff Flake support Mesa’s Light Rail Extension?

The Arizona Republic is reporting that the Federal Transit Administration will announce today that the City of Mesa may receive $38 Million in Obama money to extend Phoenix’s light rail system an additional three miles into Mesa. The money would include construction of four stations.

From the Republic:

That’s important because the approximately $200 million line needs to cross major hurdles before workers can start laying track.

First, the FTA needs to grant approval to proceed with construction.

Also, the president’s budget is only a request. Congress has the authority to spend money, and House Republicans reacted negatively after the budget was released, saying it didn’t go nearly enough in cutting spending and easing the national debt.

Obama’s budget points out there is no money in 2012 for the federal program that pays for new rail lines. Instead, the money for Mesa’s light-rail line can only come if a delayed federal transportation bill is passed, or if a continuation of spending from last year is extended beyond October. The continuation expires March 4.

The House GOP plan for a spending extension calls for cutting the federal rail grants from $2 billion to $1.57 billion. The Mesa project would draw from such funds.

“There’s a big hole in the budget; where does the money come from?” said Eric Anderson, transportation director at the Maricopa Association of Governments, adding that he’s pessimistic the administration and the House can reach agreement.

He called Mesa’s inclusion in the budget “a good sign,” adding, “You’d rather be in than not, but it’s not a guarantee Congress will fund you.”

The request comes at a time when US Congressman, Jeff Flake has just announced a bid for the US Senate in which a major part of his platform consists of his opposition to earmarks and pork projects. And given that he now sits on the House Committee on Appropriations, he will have the power to make life and death decisions over federal spending.

Strangely enough, the current length of Mesa’s light rail lies in Congressional District 5 which is now held by David Schweikert. Spending the additional $38 Million would further that extension into Jeff Flake’s district. Schweikert would likely oppose the expenditure.

Should Flake oppose the proposed expenditure extending light rail deeper into Mesa, he may find himself at political odds with City of Mesa leadership including Mayor Scott Smith and members of the Council.

The question remains. Will Congressman Flake continue his opposition to spending taxpayer money on local projects that have proven to be budget boondoggles? Or, will Senate candidate Jeff Flake place political expediency over principle by supporting Mesa’s political leadership in their desire for federal dollars to extend light rail into downtown Mesa?


  1. I love taking the light rail but it smells like homeless people.

  2. First of many tests says:

    This will be Jeff’s first test of his “base.” Light rail has polled very favorable in his district.
    The again, Flake has shown he will not be an “Arizona” senator and we will continue to be a donor state. Won’t we be so lucky noe to have two Senators who don’t represent Arizona.

  3. Viramontes says:

    I see several errors in the rationale used in this article.

    1) The light rail extension construction wont start until after the 2012 elections are over.

    2) We are not sure where the redistricting lines will be drawn. All of the light rail might end up in CD5.

    3) When has Flake ever compromised w/ taxpayer funds? And more importantly, why would he start w/ the light rail of all things. It has already been a proven failure. Just because something is popular does not mean its the right thing to do.

    This is really taking a leap and poor attempt to paint Flake into a corner.

  4. I think I’ll take the “highground” here and not point the finger at the group bitter about not getting their special earmark projects passed. Hopefully that doesn’t cut into Shane’s take.

    Flake is a fiscal hero, as close to Goldwater as we have had since the man himself. He is his own man and I can’t wait to vote for him.

  5. I don’t care if we extend the light rail, as long as we don’t let illegals ride it in my district!

  6. It’s important to note that Phoenix/Mesa light rail has not been funded by earmarks, but instead has gone through the normal appropriation process and competed in an open USDOT process, meeting all funding criteria beginning in the Bush Administration. If you’re arguing against earmarking, you don’t have an argument against light rail.

  7. Those who support this type of spending, regardless of the funding process, should really do the math here. $38 million equals over $350 per family in Mesa. Is the light rail really worth that much to each Mesa family just to add 3 miles to the light rail?

    I am not just arguing against earmarks, I am arguing against stupid spending. And anyone who thinks Flake will support this clearly has not been paying attention to his record over the past 10 years.

  8. Get this through your heads: Flake is no conservative. He’s not even a neoconservative. He voted FOR two of the prime centerpiences of the homosexual agenda:

    1) ENDA: your business or your church may be severely punished for not hiring people who DISAGREE with their core beliefs; no real legitimate protections for your religious liberty

    2) repeal of DADT; despite the fact that homosexuals are 4 times as likely as heterosexuals to commit sexual assault in the military ranks

    Flake’s ratings by radical homosexual pressure groups are rising dramatically.

    I hope he does run. We need a new congressman in D6 and this is the best way to get him out. We need a good rep in the House.

  9. amattclarkson says:


    Copy and paste much?

  10. First of many tests says:

    Flake would have personally killed the CAP Canal. Don’t do disservice to Goldwater by comparing him to Jeff Flake.

  11. “we will continue to be a donor state.”


    For every dollar we pay in federal taxes we get 1.19 back.

  12. @first of many tests – You say, “would have killed the CAP Canal” like it’s a bad thing.

    you do realize how incredibly wasteful that project was, right? and how it continues to be a huge drag.

  13. @FrankS:

    If that’s your version of an argument … get outa town.

Speak Your Mind