PHOENIX (CBS 5/3TV) - Arizona's freeways and highways are in need of serious repairs, but the state's budget proposals do little to address long-term funding shortfalls. That is according to one regional transportation official.
"We are facing, statewide, a fairly serious issue on road maintenance," said Eric Anderson, who is the executive director of the Maricopa Association of Governments, which coordinates transportation priorities and funding in the Phoenix metro area.
MAG released a study in October 2019, which identified more than $9 billion in total maintenance costs over the next 25 years, for Maricopa county freeways and highways. But under the current finding mechanism, the region will see a shortfall in funding for those repairs of $7 billion.
Much of the funding comes from a gas tax, which has not been increased since 1991.
"I don't care what the mechanism is, but let's get something that actually funds transportation investments that are important," said Anderson.
But at the state Capitol, there are no plans this year to come to a long-term fix. In fact, one of the budget bills prohibits ADOT from spending any of the money for pavement rehabilitation on projects in Maricopa and Pima Counties.
Meantime Governor Dough Ducey is pushing a flat tax proposal, which would reduce income taxes by $1.5 billion.
A spokesperson for the governor pointed out that currently, income taxes do not pay for transportation maintenance, so the tax reduction will not technically affect the current transportation funding mechanism. And the spokesperson stated that Ducey's budget proposal does, at more than $320 million for transportation infrastructure.
But a solution to the long-term challenge of maintaining the state's freeways and highways does not appear in this year's budget, and critics of the flat tax worry that reducing the state's income will make it tougher to fix the problem in the future.