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Poll: Maricopa County transportation tax renewal has broad support

A new poll found Maricopa County voters overwhelmingly support renewing a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisor asked voters to renew the tax, which was first passed in 1985 and is set to expire at the end of 2025. Proposition 479 would extend the tax through 2045.

Under the proposal, 40.5% of the money raised by the tax would be spent on freeway and highway projects, 22.5% would go toward arterial roadways, and 37% would go toward public transit. 

According to polling by Noble Predictive Insights, 68% of Maricopa County voters support Prop 479, 18% of voters oppose the measure, and 14% are unsure. The poll questioned 550 Maricopa County voters and had a margin of error of plus minus 4.18%. 

David Byler, Noble Predictive’s chief of research, said the proposition even has the support of some unlikely demographics.

“Nearly two-thirds of Republicans support the measure,” Byler said. “Among voters who prioritize taxes as their top concern, 62% are in favor of renewal; 58% who prioritize inflation as their top issue also support Prop 479.”    

The proposition will appear on ballots in Maricopa County in November, though as recently as last year the future of the longtime tax was uncertain.

That’s because Maricopa County, unlike other Arizona counties, needed approval from the state Legislature before it could send the tax renewal to voters — and that process faced some opposition last year from Republican lawmakers who did not want revenues from the tax to be spent on light rail expansion.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed an initial proposal sent to her by Republican lawmakersthat would have divided the tax renewal into two ballot questions – one dealing with funding for roads, public transit and highways and a separate question dealing with light rail funding. 

Ultimately, Republican lawmakers and Hobbs reached a compromise to refer to a single question to Maricopa County voters that stipulates revenue cannot be used for light rail expansion or to reduce lanes of traffic.   

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in November 2023 to refer the ballot measure to voters.

Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.