Arizona Forward collaborated with the Maricopa Association of Governments to educate the public about the how the veto of Proposition 400 is risking air quality, officials said.
The goal of extendingProp 400 is to give funding for projects like extending the freeways or expanding the bus transit routes. However, on July 6th, Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed the bill that extended sales tax for prop. 400. Without the funding to extend freeways or fix potholes, traffics jams will continue to rise in the Valley and further damage the air quality in Phoenix.
In 2022, the American Lung Association ranked Phoenix in fifth place as the most polluted city. Most of which is contributed by carbon emissions that come from traffic jams and idle vehicles.
“We need to act, and we need to act now,” John Bullen, Transportations Economic and Finance Program Manager at Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), proposes to Arizona Forward. “Quality of life is at risk without an extension to prop. 400.”
Arizona Forward, a non-profit organization, focuses on sustainable solutions for the state. The committee assigned to air quality and transportation work with professionals in sustainability and government associations to find possible solutions and educate themselves on the issues of pollution.
The funding for prop. 400 expires in December 2025 ending the half-cent sales tax that’s been in place since 2006. Bullen, stated, “We lost half of the revenue that supported our future as well as our current plans.”
One of MAG’s plans is to extend the public transit routes making travel easier while reducing the carbon footprint, according to Bullen. Without the proper funding from the federal government, transit routes in service today are at risk of limitation.
Suzanne Day, Valley Metro Commute Solutions Program Director, works with several organizations to promote sustainable ways of commuting to the Valley. Day describes that their team works closely with Maricopa County Travel Reduction Program (TRP) to help achieve their goal of reducing air pollution.
“We as a society have waited too long to make a real change involving the climate, and the coming decades will be hard,” Day explains.
The commute solutions team at Valley Metro encourages the public with alternative options for travel. ShareTheRide is a program managed by the commute solutions team that allows commuters to carpool with others. This program lets the users see their total savings and win prizes, according to Day.
Carpooling is an effective way to travel without producing more carbon emissions, however, this isn’t the only method to help reduce one’s carbon footprint.
Director of the Office of Environmental Programs, Nancy Allen states, “utilize public transit, filling your gas tank after dark, and combining deliveries are various ways to reduce carbon emissions.” Allen expresses concern about air pollution in Maricopa County as it is continuing to rise with the high volume of cars going in and out of the city.
Advocating for prop. 400, Bullen describes that it is time to educate voters on the benefits of the bill. It is the next step to changing the conditions of Maricopa County economically and environmentally.