A privatized stimulus plan - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

A privatized stimulus plan

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Posted: Saturday, February 28, 2009 8:45 pm | Updated: 2:33 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

John Munger: Imagine reviving Arizona's economy almost overnight. Imagine creating thousands of high-paying jobs and broad-based prosperity today in Arizona. Imagine at the same time finally having the money to solve many of our critical statewide transportation and other infrastructure problems.

Imagine reviving Arizona's economy almost overnight. Imagine creating thousands of high-paying jobs and broad-based prosperity today in Arizona.

Imagine at the same time finally having the money to solve many of our critical statewide transportation and other infrastructure problems, including widening Interstate 10 from Tucson to Flagstaff, making traveling both much safer and quicker for everyone making those inevitable trips to our sister cities.

Imagine being able to build needed truck bypasses that separate through traffic from our urban areas, and other needed infrastructure throughout the state.

Now imagine doing all this with no tax increases, no state spending, and, in fact, increasing state tax revenues.

Arizona can make all this happen today. But we need to quit looking at bigger government for solutions and look to the private sector.

Companies exist worldwide that stand ready and able to pour billions of dollars into Arizona to build our transportation, educational and other infrastructure, and with their own capital rather than with our tax money. They will put Arizona workers to work doing it, creating thousands of jobs, prosperity, and additional tax revenues for our state treasury, at the same time making Arizona the nation’s strongest economic engine and leading the country out of recession.

To make these dreams come true, Arizona simply needs to immediately do what is necessary to begin to enter into contracts with private companies to build this infrastructure.

Texas, California, and other states have recognized the benefits of using private capital, not tax money, to satisfy their needs. Arizona should do the same.

New roads would be built and maintained to state standards by private companies at their own expense. Those companies would be repaid from fees paid only by those of us who choose to use this new infrastructure; but current public highways always would remain open and free for everyone as alternatives.

On the I-10/Interstate 17 corridor, for example, two new “hot lanes” could be added in each direction, paid for by users, who could also choose to ride on existing and immediately adjacent free public roads. But both the “hot lanes” and the public roads would have safer and have less dense traffic usage.

Major roads need not be the only focus of this “privatized stimulus” plan. Needed schools, and college and university classrooms also could be built at private expense, and leased to the state or school districts. Such schools would not require large up-front capital expenditures which Arizona simply cannot otherwise afford.

Arizona would own all these transportation and other infrastructure after 30 years.

Arizona can satisfy its infrastructure needs almost immediately, but without tax increases, new state spending, all while stimulating our economy to create thousands of much needed new Arizona jobs. It’s a “two-fer.” Put Arizona to work now.

John F. Munger of Tucson is a former president of the Arizona Board of Regents, a past chairman of the Arizona Republican Party and is currently chairman of ImagineArizona, a political action committee that seeks to promote new and positive ideas for Arizona based on the Republican principles of limited government, economic growth and the empowerment of free people.

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