Phoenix Voters Will Consider Transportation Sales Tax in August; Here's Why It Should Pass

The City of Phoenix is looking at a transportation plan for the city that could cost $31 billion. The proposal will go to the voters in an August election. The plan will require tax funding, and legislative efforts have begun to garner support for the tax. Policy analyst Sapna Gupta of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy thinks the measure has a good chance of passage. She discusses the measure in this report.

Sapna Gupta

Sapna Gupta

Gupta says that passage will require the city to sell the voters on the importance of passing the tax and implementing the plan. The city has done a good job so far, and it seems to be getting some help. For example, Banner Health has announced that it will move its headquarters to the midtown area Phoenix, citing the existence of a light rail system as a strong factor in making the decision.

The city’s approach, says Gupta, should be to sell the idea that the improvements will help to attract businesses. The tax would provide financing for street repairs and upgrades, bicycle lane construction, and light rail extension. Residents need to see the attraction of paying the taxes to get the benefits. Another strong point in favor of the transportation improvements is the impact of Gen Xers and Millennials. Research has shown that these groups tend to live closer to a city’s core than its suburbs, and they put a high value on transportation and quality of life issues.

Nationally, there are discussions at many levels on how best to fund transportation construction and maintenance. The federal government and the states use fuel taxes to finance highway construction. Gupta points out that the problem with fuel taxes is that increasing fuel efficiency in automobiles has stopped the growth of tax revenues to keep up with maintenance costs. Planners struggling with other ideas have suggested such things as taxing people based on how many miles they drive. Easy solutions have not yet appeared. The present relatively low fuel prices might make it attractive to raise fuel taxes. However, tax increases are always touchy. In spite of this, the roads need to be repaired, and good infrastructure will be necessary to keep businesses growing.

Gupta notes that there is strong bipartisan support for the Phoenix tax proposal, and the business community is supporting the tax increase. Sound transportation will be essential to attracting high paying jobs and helping businesses to grow. Having access to good transportation will help Phoenix maintain its stature as a great city to live in.

Sapna Gupta is a Senior Policy Analyst at Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University in Phoenix. She has a background in policy analysis, research and project management. Previously, she was a consultant and researcher for civic organizations, nonprofits and universities. She has worked as an investment banker in public finance at J.P. Morgan, where she structured financings for public and not-for-profit entities and provided advice on debt management. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

The Arizona Innovation Challenge: Financial and Mentoring Aid for Promising Startups

The Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC) is an annual event "powered by the Arizona Commerce Authority" (ACA). Not everyone has heard of this unique initiative. Phoenix attorney Tom Curzon explains the AIC in this report.

Tom Curzon

Tom Curzon

Curzon describes the AIC as “an innovative business plan competition” created and carried out by the ACA. He characterizes it as “the single most important thing in our entrepreneurial ecosystem” in the last two-plus decades. The AIC is the second largest business plan competition in the country.

The ACA divides the competition into two cohorts each year, each with $1.5 million in available grants, making $3 million available to the winners of the competition. Each cohort provides six grants of $250,000. Curzon reports that the AIC is working through its eighth cohort. When this particular cohort is finished, the program will have awarded $12 million to budding entrepreneurs.

Curzon says that, to date, the AIC has received over 1,250 applications for grants by over 850 companies. “Startups,” says Curzon, “are like mushrooms in the forest. They are hard to find.” The AIC brings the startups to the notice of the business community in the ACA. That in turn can bring money, mentoring, and nurturing to startups when they need it most. Those startups with promise can acquire investments.

The program maintains community involvement by using investors and others in the business community as judges for the competition. This assures that the judging will be done by knowledgeable people who can provide feedback as well as expertise in their judging. Curzon says that he is “a big fan. It’s awesome.”

The goals of the AIC is bring promising startups to the attention of the business community and to provide funding and mentoring to the most promising young companies in the competition. Also, the competition helps the business community find more new companies. And the process seems to be improving the quality of the competitors. Curzon explains that he has been a judge for all but the first cohort. He says that the quality of the business plans he reads has continued to improve each year. The winning companies have usually applied two or three times before they succeed in getting a grant. “They are gaining experience in pitching” their companies, and that will help them in their efforts to raise money.

Thomas H. Curzon is a partner in Osborn Maledon, P.A in Phoenix, Arizona and is the co-leader of the firm's business practice. His practice focuses primarily on serving as outside general counsel to emerging, growth-oriented companies and on entrepreneurial transactions. An integral component of his practice is his active leadership in Arizona's entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

Judge approves NFL concussion settlement

A federal judge has approved a settlement to resolve thousands of NFL concussion lawsuits. The deal could cost the league $1 billion over 65 years.

The settlement approved Wednesday by a federal judge in Philadelphia would pay about $190,000 on average per player, but up to $5 million to those with Parkinson's disease or ALS in their 30's or 40's.  

The lawsuits accuse the league of hiding what it knew about concussion risks. The NFL still denies those claims.

Attorneys say the settlement will help families get money or medical testing sooner than if the class action case went to trial. While the settlement is final, payment delays are still possible.

About 200 players opted out of the class action lawsuit to pursue individual suits against the league.