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Sales tax hike to expand light rail gets support

Some Valley groups have come out in favor of a Phoenix city proposition that is designed to improve the Valley’s transportation system.

Proposition 104 would replace the city’s current 0.4 cent sales tax with a 0.7 cent sales tax. The money would be used to build a south and west extension of the light rail. It would also build a rail connection to ASU West.

Supporters say it will improve bus routes and city streets, while adding hundreds of miles of bike lanes in the city. The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce favors the proposition.

“It will continue to attract business growth and investment along the Light Rail Corridor,” said Chamber Vice President Mike Huckins. “It will connect our students, the work force of our future, to educational opportunities all across Phoenix.”

Huckins said the proposition will expand light rail and make Phoenix more appealing to talented individuals all across the country.

“We need a city that’s going to embrace that vision and provide the life and educational opportunities that will attract those employees to come here and work, play and live,” Huckins said.

Opponents of Proposition 104 are calling it a big tax and spend program for the city of Phoenix. Phoenix Councilmember Sal DiCiccio said the program is essentially a $17 billion tax increase which he thinks could be better spent elsewhere.

“You could double the amount of police, you could double the amount of firefighters, after school programs, library hours, everything with this tax,” DiCiccio said.

The councilman estimates it will cost around $161 million to operate each new mile of the light rail built through the program.

Phoenix voters will go to the polls on August 25 to decide the issue.

KTAR’s Cooper Rummell contributed to this report.