Last month, The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry participated in the 106th Arizona Town Hall. Each year Town Hall gathers community members from across the state and engages them in a process to build consensus around pressing state issues. This year’s policy emphasis was on Transportation.
The forum provided an in-depth conversation about Arizona’s transportation needs, and included a variety of stakeholders invested in the issue. A final report has been released, which reflects the results of the Town Hall discussions. It is meant to serve as a guide for elected officials and community leaders as they address the state’s transportation needs.
The Arizona Chamber was extremely active in the Town Hall process by providing a business perspective focused on investing in transportation infrastructure to facilitate commerce and grow the economy. Due in part to the Chamber’s participation, the report includes several positive recommendations, such as:
- Support for a long-term, sustainable funding solution to stabilize the federal Highway Trust Fund and reauthorization of the surface transportation bill.
- Stop diverting the Highway Users Revenue Fund (HURF) and reinstate HURF swaps for local governments.
- Actively support Arizona Department of Transportation’s Key Commerce Corridors Plan including the extension and creation of the I-11 through Arizona to the Mexico border.
- Create funding solution for personnel and technology at land ports of entry to facilitate international trade.
- Explore Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) to enhance transportation funding.
- Prioritize funding and coordinate applications for federal funds for projects that provide greatest economic development opportunities.
Conversely, a few points in the report do not represent a business-friendly approach to resolving Transportation issues, including:
- Raising the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization.
o Chamber position: Air travel is a huge economic driver to the state. Airline tickets are already heavily taxed and the FPC is just another unnecessary hidden tax.
- Aggressively market unfunded passenger rail from Tucson to Phoenix.
o Chamber position: Transportation funding should focus on areas that create the biggest economic impact to the state such as freight mobility to get Arizona goods to important markets.
- Supporting public transportation as part of the Highway Trust Fund.
o Chamber position: The fund should focus on what the users are paying for, which is currently a fee on gas purchased for the use of roads and bridges that motorized vehicles travel. Non-highway programs and mass transit should be considered separately.
Click here to read the full report from the 106th Arizona Town Hall.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry has long supported a user-fee driven model to meet our transportation funding needs. Indexing and adjusting the rate is something that should be evaluated as well as other funding solutions such as public-private partnerships for investment capital. User fees should go to their intended purpose and the HURF needs to be spent solely on our state highways and roads and not swept to cover budget shortfalls.
Transportation is undoubtedly an important component of a strong economy and should be a priority for the government at both the federal and state levels. The business-led effort, Accelerate Arizona, will continue to create awareness and facilitate conversations with elected officials and key stakeholders to think creatively and collectively as a state to strategically invest in transportation to grow the economy.
For more information about Accelerate Arizona, visit www.acceleratearizona.com.