Prop 104: Wrong For Phoenix

By Shawnna L.M. Bolick
A Concerned Taxpayer with Children

Phoenix will be headed the way of Detroit if Phoenix voters aren’t prudent with our taxpayer dollars.

In August 2015, Phoenicians face a $31 BILLION DOLLAR TAX INCREASE if this behemoth of a proposition passes.

This proposal establishes light rail in suburban areas that won’t ever support such expansions and disrupt major arteries while they are laying track.

If there is something to learn from previous light rail construction, many small businesses went bankrupt or closed because they couldn’t sustain the road closures surrounding their businesses.

This proposed light rail project wildly benefits the fat cats of the City of Phoenix, not you and me. Even more devastating, small businesses would shoulder the brunt of this massive tax, not profitable corporations that might be able to afford $161 MILLION PER MILE to lay new track.

I think we can all agree that fiscal sanity needs to be restored at City Hall. Yet, these same politicians know from past experience that the timing of this August ballot measure is ripe to ask for a very large tax increase because a majority of registered voters either skip the off-year municipal election or have no idea an election is even taking place.

Do you want the city telling you or your grandchildren how to redirect your disposal income?

In order to keep Phoenix a world-class city, we need to ensure Proposition 104 fails at the ballot box.

Please join me in defeating this ill conceived tax scheme that further hampers our ability to invest resources where we deem fit.

Please make sure to vote NO on Proposition 104 (a.k.a. the train tax) this August.


Prop 104: A $31,500,000,000 Tax

By Matthew Kenney
Chairman, Taken for a Ride – No on Prop 104

The Taken for a Ride – No on Prop 104 committee was created to inform voters of the proposed $31,500,000,000 sales tax (Transaction Privilege Tax). The sales tax (Prop 104), if passed, is calculated to give Phoenix, Arizona one of the highest sales tax rates in the United States. If Prop 104 passes you would be paying almost the same sales tax rate as the billionaires in New York City.

I am a United States Army Veteran and when I returned from the battlefields in the Middle East, my hometown of Phoenix led the country in kidnapping and poverty. At a time when my commute times are below the national average, Phoenix’s murder, robbery, assault and overall crime rates were on the rise (latest 2012 statistics). Phoenix leaders have lost their focus – it’s about badges not buses – they are getting it wrong.

Prop 104 Train Wreck

The ballot language is deceptive in that it only shows a percentage of what the tax would increase to. It fails to show that the
government has stuck the taxpayers with these small percentages so regularly that the city has one of the largest taxes in the country.

The truth is that this will cost everyday Phoenicians $31.5 billion dollars.

Worst of all, while everyday Phoenicians and small business owners shoulder the 31.5 billion dollar tax burden, the mayor cut a deal with big business excluding all purchases above $10,000. Is that fair, it is just or is it just wrong?

I urge you to vote NO on Prop 104 for the sake of generations to come.

Prop 104: Money-Losing Rail Transit Won’t Stimulate Economy

By William O Sumner

Proponents of the proposed $31.5 billion transportation tax increase contend that it will more than pay for itself by stimulating economic growth. Figures as high as $7 gained for every dollar spent have been touted.

This is utter nonsense.

The $31.5 billion in taxes will be taken away from profitable uses in order to spend it on profitless transit. This will add an extra deadweight burden on the local economy.

It will lower standards of living below what could have been achieved if the money hadn’t been taxed away from its rightful owners.

It will decrease the number of job opportunities, as growing businesses lose resources they could have put into expanding and employing more workers.

Rather than pumping money into the economy, light rail will siphon tens of millions of dollars per year out of our economy in order to prop up deficit-ridden rail operations.

Sure, some people will get rich from this income transfer scheme. Construction firms that build the light rail will make money. Banks that float the loans to finance the upfront costs will earn millions in fees and interest. Real estate owners prescient enough to be located near rail stations will see a windfall return on their investment.

The big losers will be taxpayers who each will have to make do with less in order to fill the pockets of the fortunate minority who will benefit from this boondoggle.

Don’t fall for well-financed, slick arguments of the scam artists.

Vote NO.

Prop 104: Adding More Light Rail Will Worsen Traffic Congestion & Air Pollution

By Martha Moneypenney

The proponents of building more light rail portray it as a means of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. A superficial assertion that every person riding the light rail is a person not driving a car implies that light rail must be reducing congestion.

This assertion is misleading. Granted, a person riding the light rail is not adding a car to the traffic mix. However, adding the light rail trains to the street traffic mix more than offsets the subtraction of automobiles.

Light rail tracks eliminate two lanes that autos might have used. Squeezing six lanes of traffic into four lanes inevitably slows traffic.

Light rail tracks block autos from turning left into businesses on the other side of the street. Complex maneuvers involving driving further down the street and executing a U-turn also slow down traffic.

The Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project: Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Valley Metro ran computer simulations of traffic with and without light rail. Their finding was that adding light rail increased traffic congestion by almost 1%.

Now, increasing congestion by less than 1% isn’t much, but should we really spend billions to make congestion even a little bit worse?

The Valley Metro study also projected a small increase in air pollution from adding light rail to the transportation system. Again, this is a small impact, but do we really want to spend billions to make air pollution a little bit worse?

Time is our most precious resource. We shouldn’t be burdening taxpayers in order to build a rail system that will consume more of our time in traffic congestion. Neither should we be burdening taxpayers in order to build a system that will degrade our air.

Vote No on Prop 104.

Prop 104: Light Rail Reduces Transit Effectiveness

By: Howard Sprague

The notion that light rail makes a worthwhile contribution to the mobility of persons who depend on public transportation is erroneous. Light rail merely steals bus riders already using transit.

For the 10 years prior to the opening of rail service, bus ridership grew at an average rate of 5.6% per year. In 1997, there were 34.1 million passenger trips. In 2008, there were 61.9 million.

Since rail opened for business in 2009, total transit ridership growth has slowed to an average of 0.3% per year. In 2014, there were 72.1 million passenger trips on buses and trains combined. If previous rates of growth in bus travel had prevailed, there would have been 85.8 million passenger trips in 2014.

What happened? Well, the extraordinarily high cost of building light rail necessitated a reduction in funds available for bus service. Fewer buses could be supported.

Compared to buses, light rail serves a much smaller segment of transportation need. Buses can cover every corner of the city. Rail can cover only a few dozen miles in narrowly circumscribed corridors. Think of that.

Now it is touted that light rail will attract the white collar riders—the downtown crowd of bankers, lawyers, and corporate executives who won’t ride buses. This may be true, but why should the average taxpayer be forced to subsidize the rides of people who can easily afford their own transportation?

Does it make sense for people who depend on buses to have to walk further and wait longer in the burning sun just so the City can provide expensive rides for a few privileged individuals?

Vote No on Prop. 104.

Prop 104: Rail Transit Won’t Revitalize the Urban Core

By Juan Saldana

The biggest pipe dream advanced by the proponents of this $31 billion tax increase is that building more light rail tracks is an effective way of achieving urban “in-fill.” The notion that all prospective land owners are waiting for a few more miles of expensive and slowmoving trains before they upgrade their properties is ludicrous.

Aside from some limited improvements to structures near the train stops, the vast majority of the real estate near the first 20 miles of light rail track remains rundown. If the first 20 miles couldn’t rescue these eyesores, why should we expect the next 20 miles to do the trick?

Rehabilitating urban property requires money. Unfortunately, light rail doesn’t generate income for most property owners. Quite the contrary. During the construction the streets in front of businesses will be torn up for a lengthy period, making it hard for customers to get in to buy anything.

Some businesses won’t survive the construction phase. Those that do will mostly see fewer customers return, since the tracks will prevent left turns into the businesses. The loss of lanes for automobiles will add to traffic congestion—further deterring customers.

If the City were serious about revitalizing the urban core, it would opt for a more efficient means of accomplishing this—like giving small businesses in the core area a tax holiday. This would allow them to keep more of the money they earn. Businesses already in the area would be more likely to thrive. Others would be drawn to the area by the improved net income they could obtain.

If we really want to revitalize the urban core we should reject hiking taxes to fund a lame railroad and pursue sounder methods.

Vote NO.

Proposition 104 Benefits Insiders and Special Interests at Taxpayers Expense

By Scot Mussi

If you only listened to supporters of Proposition 104, it would be difficult to know what the 30 billion dollar transit tax initiative is really about. Even the ballot language written by the city tries to hide the fact that Prop 104 nearly DOUBLES the transit sales tax over the next 35 years, a multibillion dollar tax hike to fund light rail expansion that Phoenix residents can ill afford.

But the massive tax hike is only one of the reasons why Prop 104 should be rejected by Phoenix voters. As written, Prop 104 is a blank check for City Hall that allows insiders and politically connected special interests to cash in on the new transit tax. In fact, the dirty secret about this initiative is that they are not required to build any of the projects they are promising in the transit plan.

For example, the city could decide after its passage to cancel all new road projects and use the money to construct more light rail. Or City Council could approve a costly new trolley or train system that leaves the road you take to work under construction for the next five years. Entire sections of the city could lose out on transit funding to politically connected insiders at City Hall. How the money is spent will be up to the politicians to decide, not you.

The lack of transparency and accountability tied to this tax increase was by design. They could have included protections on how the money was spent or oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. They chose not to, because the City wants your money but with no corresponding strings attached.

Phoenix residents should oppose this giveaway and vote NO on Prop 104.

Phoenix Prop 104 Facts – Get Informed Before Voting!

I have decided to release the facts on Phoenix’s Prop 104. This information was acquired over the six months I worked for the City of Phoenix.

Please share this information with Phoenix voters as early ballots hit households across Phoenix.

Train Tax Proposal Details:

  • Current City Tax is 2.0%.
  • Current City Tax Expires in 2020 receding back to 1.6%.
  • If approved, Proposition 104 would continue the 0.4% AND add an additional 0.3% increase = 2.3%.
  • With state and county, total City of Phoenix tax rate = 8.6%.
  • The new tax rate (2.3%) would continue until 2035.
  • Total pricetag of Prop 104 transit proposal = $31.5 Billion.
  • Total light rail portion = $6.66 Billion.
  • Total length of rail = 41.2 Miles.
  • Total Cost/Mile = $161,650,485/Mile.
  • Fair box Recovery (Phoenix only) 19%. Most recently, the city claimed 47% (Losing 53%).
  • Light Rail Daily Ridership = 28,000 (Bus = 132,000) M-F.
  • With entire proposal, the City of Phoenix could purchase 1.2 Million Prius or 2.2 Million Smart Cars or 8.75 Million Vespas (based on MSRP).
  • 1 Mile of Light Rail could fund 2,944 Teachers.
  • Entire project could fund 573,697 high school teachers or 16,391 teachers per year for 35 years ($54,907 median pay).
  • City set an exemption of $10,000 on single-item purchases. First $10K taxes at 2.3%. After $10K, at 2.0%.
  • By creating the $10K exemption, the projects scales back to $31.5 Billion but adds an additional $300 Million in interest charges to the proposal.
  • The City of Phoenix has bought into the Obama Administration’s goal of redistributing wealth from the suburbs into the inner core of large cities.
  • Light rail does NOT create new economic development. It only geographically relocates economic activity.
  • The language of the ballot measure states that the City of Phoenix MAY spend the tax revenue on transit items. Id does not state SHALL spend the money on transit items.
  • The City of Phoenix is expected to run a $50 Million deficit in 2015-2016. Passage of Prop 104 will allow the City of Phoenix to avoid that deficit.
  • Light rail is fixed. Once the rail is in the ground, it cannot be inexpensively moved. Bus routes are flexible and can be rerouted.
  • Light rail is 19th Century technology. We live in an age with Uber, telecommuting and other innovative technologies.
  • The biggest contributors toward the MovePHX campaign (Pro-104) are developers – the corporations who will benefit directly from the tax revenues.
  • There is a better way to improve transit instead of committing $31.5 BILLION over 35 years. Too much for too long.

Reason TV and Prop 104: Phoenix Light Rail Fail

Meet the Thighmaster of urban public policy: Streetcars.

Municipal politicians all across the country have convinced themselves that this costly, clunky hardware can revitalize their flabby downtown economies.

That includes the fearless leaders of America’s capital city. The DC government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade trying to erect a streetcar line in the up-and-coming neighborhood of H Street. The project has been an epic disaster, perfectly demonstrating how ill-suited streetcars are to modern urban life.

Video Produced by Rob Montz, who also hosts. Camera by Todd Krainin. Graphics by Jason Keisling and Meredith Bragg.

Thanks to ReasonTV.


Facts about Phoenix Prop 104:

  • $31.5 BILLION Proposal
  • Tax will last 35 YEARS
  • $6.66 BILLION for Light Rail
  • 41.2 Miles of new rail
  • $161 MILLION per mile of light rail
  • Entire proposal could purchase 2.2 MILLION SmartCars
  • Will shrink available funds that could be used for education, hiring or teachers
  • Mayor and Council created a $10,000 exemption to appease big business from paying full tax rate
  • Majority of Pro-Prop 104 money is from construction and developers who will benefit from contracts to build light rail corridors.
  • Current light rail is losing 53% on farebox recovery
  • Valley Metro places emphasis on increasing ridership by backing off and not enforcing payment
  • Less than 1% of Phoenix population rides light rail
  • Vast majority of riders are students, government employees, homeless, destitute or under the influence (subsidized or non-paying riders).

Sal DiCiccio: Phoenix Light Rail Will Take Money Away From Education

Recently, I appeared in an interview by the Legal Broadcast Network in which I discuss the Phoenix light rail fiasco. I’d like to share a portion of that interview so Phoenicians can understand what’s at stake in the August election and the enormity of this boondoggle.

The cost to build one mile of freeway is about $56 Million. Compare that to the cost to build one mile of light rail. As staff revealed, Phoenix taxpayers would spend $161 MILLION per mile for this monstrosity. That is almost three times the cost to move far fewer people than what a freeway moves.

And if you look at the number of users who actually use light rail, it’s about one half of one percent of our population. Putting that in perspective, its equivalent to the amount of people who drive down the street in front of your home.

For this $31.5 BILLION proposal, the City of Phoenix could buy 2.2 Million Smart Cars! That is every man, woman and child who could use one of these eco-friendly cars.

Remember, the same people who brought us the downtown Sheraton Hotel at a total loss of $130 Million, now want us to pay for another massive taxpayer $31.5 BILLION boondoggle.

At a time when we need more money going into our education system this takes money away from that priority. Every dollar going into this $161 Million/mile train system is a dollar not going to our children’s education.