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Advocates: Prop. 400 veto translates to poor air quality in Phoenix metropolis

Photo of idling car contributing to poor air quality in Phoenix

Without the funding by Prop. 400 to extend freeways or fix potholes, traffics jams will continue to rise in the Valley and further damage the air quality in Phoenix, advocates say. (File Photos/

Arizona Forward collaborates to
educate on air quality ramifications of Prop. 400 denial

By Gabriel Estes | Special to the Digital Free Press

Arizona Forward collaborates with the Maricopa Association of Governments today to educate the public about the recent Proposition 400 veto risking air quality, officials said late last week.

The goal of extending Prop. 400 is to give funding for projects like freeway construction or expanding the bus transit routes. However, on July 6, 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, proponents contend.

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, transportation economic and finance program manager at Maricopa Association of Governments, proposes to Arizona Forward. “Quality of life is at risk without an extension to Prop. 400.”

Arizona Forward, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit 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.

“We lost half of the revenue that supported our future as well as our current plans,” Mr. Bullen said.

One of MAG’s plans is to extend the public transit routes making travel easier while reducing the carbon footprint, according to Mr. Bullen. Without the proper funding from the federal government, transit routes in service today are at risk of limitation, advocates contend.

Suzanne Day, Valley Metro commute solutions program director, works with several organizations to promote sustainable ways of commuting to the Valley. Ms. Day describes that their team works closely with Maricopa County Travel Reduction Program to help achieve the 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,” Ms. 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 Ms. 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 points out, “utilize public transit, filling your gas tank after dark, and combining deliveries are various ways to reduce carbon emissions.”

Ms. Allen says she has concerns 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, Mr. 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.

Editor’s note: Mr. Estes is a journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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