March 27, 2017

Rebecca Timmer

What’s being done to improve Arizona’s infrastructure

Arizona’s infrastructure is the subject of significant debate this legislative session. While infrastructure can be defined in many ways, it is essential for the efficient movement of people, goods and elections.

Last fall, a citizen task force studied the issue of transportation funding. Their efforts resulted in several pieces of legislation considered by the Legislature this year. One is a ballot measure raising the gas tax, currently at 18 cents per gallon for cars and light trucks to 28 cents per gallon. Yet another bill increases fees to generate revenue for Arizona’s roads and highways. The Highway User Revenue Fund will no doubt be an issue in budget negotiations.

Governor Doug Ducey in his State of the State address touted broadband infrastructure for rural Arizona schools. The governor explained that schools need bandwidth to perform and grow. A $5 million budget recommendation for broadband infrastructure will draw down one-time federal funding to help connect Arizona’s rural schools.

In his executive budget, Gov. Ducey stated that developing a world-class higher education system requires ongoing investment in university research and development. New infrastructure investments will encourage innovation and expand economic opportunities for students by attracting high-quality faculty, who in turn will provide applied learning opportunities to students pursuing targeted career opportunities. The Arizona Biodesign Institute on the ASU Main Campus is only one of the shining examples of how funding research infrastructure results in a significant return on the investment.

The governor’s budget recommends a permanent commitment to the three in-state universities to support approximately $1 billion in new research and development infrastructure, including deferred maintenance projects, by diverting transaction privilege tax revenues paid by the universities to enable a new 30-year bond program. The recommendation calls for an investment of $110 million in the first three years alone.

Each of these infrastructure projects benefit Arizona and its economic development efforts. The Arizona Association of Economic Development is at the State Capitol each day talking with lawmakers about the benefits of economic development tools and infrastructure investment. As the leading voice for economic development, AAED will continue to advocate for its members.