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Why these Arizona leaders say you should vote 'yes' on Prop. 479 to extend half-cent sales tax

By Kirsten Dorman
Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 6:05am
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 12:06pm

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Mayor Jerry Weiers stands behind a podium. He is reading into a microphone and wearing glasses.
Kirsten Dorman/KJZZ
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers spoke in support of Proposition 479 on Feb. 27, 2024.

This November, Maricopa County voters will decide whether to extend the half-cent sales tax that has funded transportation projects for decades. That extension would last 20 years.

Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers called it the most important question voters will see on their ballot.

“It’s the same half-cent sales tax,” said Weiers. “You won’t see an increase. But that half cent goes a lot less [sic] than what it used to. So we’re trying to do a lot more with a lot less. It’s critical to the state of Arizona, it’s critical to Maricopa County and our cities.”

Mesa Mayor John Giles said investments in transportation like the ones Prop. 479 promises will shorten commutes and continue growing the state’s economy.

“I have seen first hand the profound impact that Propositions 300 and 400 have had on the East Valley,” said Giles. “These investments have set the stage for the development of quality, high-wage jobs throughout the area.”

Funding from Prop. 479, said Weiers, will be key to maintaining crucial infrastructure as well as expanding roads and highways.

“This investment will continue to reduce congestion and ensure that first responders can get to us as quickly as possible,” he said.

Mayor John Giles stands behind a podium looking at an audience just off camera.
Kirsten Dorman/KJZZ
Mesa Mayor John Giles spoke in support of Proposition 479 on Feb. 27, 2024.

Beyond benefits to Maricopa County, Gov. Katie Hobbs said Proposition 479 would fund projects to keep up with the state’s rapid growth.

“Our state's population has grown by more than 2 million people in the last 20 years,” said Hobbs. “Fortunately, our previous investments in roads and highways have allowed us to keep up with this growth, but we can't fall behind now.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said 30% of the money Prop. 479 would bring in is slated to support and improve transit, particularly bus services, for people who don’t have access to a vehicle or can’t drive.

More than half (54%) of the people who ride the transit system, she said, don’t have their own vehicle. Nearly a quarter of them (23%) are students.

“It means that our school districts — in particular, high schools — do not have to put as much money into transportation,” said Gallego. “They can put it in the classroom with our teachers.”

Some members of the Arizona Legislature are opposed. Justin Heap, (R-Mesa) described passing it as “giving Democrats a club to bludgeon us with in 2024.”

When the decision to pass Prop. 479 will be in voters’ hands this fall, Gallego said it “may be the most crowded ballot in Arizona history.” But she also said she feels confident that its supporters will be able to show voters “what we have accomplished so far and why we need to continue the great progress we have in our region.”

Mayor Kate Gallego stands behind a podium. She is speaking and gesturing with both hands, wearing a light pink suit.
Kirsten Dorman/KJZZ
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego spoke in support of Proposition 479 on Feb. 27, 2024.

Pam Kehaly stands behind a podium. She is smiling and wearing a gray suit jacket.
Kirsten Dorman/KJZZ
Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and co-chair of Connect Maricopa, spoke in support of Prop. 479 on Feb. 27, 2024.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct which city Jerry Weiers is the mayor of. 

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