After years of regional planning and months of bipartisan negotiations, the Arizona State Legislature has passed a bill that will allow Maricopa County voters to decide whether to extend the half-cent sales tax for transportation. The move comes on the final day of the 2023 legislative session. The transportation tax has funded critical infrastructure in Maricopa County – roads, freeways, bridges, and transit systems – for 40 years, fueling economic momentum and freedom of mobility in the region. “This is a win for voters, who now have the power to renew critical funding to provide the infrastructure needed for the fastest-growing county in the nation, including improved and expanded transit services,” said Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Chair and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “Our region’s leaders have built a legacy of bipartisan collaboration to bolster our transportation system to improve residents’ access to jobs, school, and critical services. While Maricopa County is the only county that requires legislative approval to take an initiative to the ballot, we were resolute in ensuring that we put forward a plan that had the unanimous support of 32 cities, towns, counties, and Native nations,” said Gallego. “Though the current bill does not provide us with the flexibility we originally sought, it allows us to wholly implement our planned multimodal projects, setting the foundation for a stronger, more accessible region.” The Proposition 400 extension would provide nearly $15 billion in transportation investments over 20 years to support a $28 billion transportation program, including such critical projects as the construction of State Route 30, completion of State Route 24, improvements to Interstates 10 and 17, rehabilitation of pavement on all other freeways and significant investments in arterial streets, new transportation technologies, safety projects and expanded regional transit services. “Public input played a critical role in the development of this plan, and I am excited we can now put its future back into the hands of the residents who helped to create it,” said Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise, immediate past chair of MAG. “Large or small, rural or urban, the MAG plan works for every community in the region.” Buckeye Mayor Eric Orsborn, who chairs the Transportation Policy Committee, notes that nearly 60 percent of the sales tax will go to roads. “The allocation of funding includes 40.5 percent for freeways, 22.5 percent for arterial roadways, and 37 percent for transit,” he said. “This provides the region with a comprehensive multimodal plan that ensures the safe, efficient movement of people and goods within, to, and through our region.” The voter-approved sales tax has been in place for nearly 40 years. If voters decide to continue the tax, the rate would stay the same, meaning residents would not pay anything more than they are already paying. Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, MAG vice chair, says implementing the plan will create more than $30 billion in net new income for the region because of the transportation investments. “That is more than a billion dollars each year in economic activity,” said Hartke. “This will provide a competitive edge for Arizona businesses, who will benefit from billions in increased sales, travel time savings, and thousands of high-quality jobs that come with building a well-planned, comprehensive regional transportation system.” Maricopa County is the only county in Arizona without the authority to directly refer a sales tax for transportation to its voters. In the end however, mayors and elected leaders of MAG were able to deliver a compromise to ensure continued economic prosperity for the region and state.