The last chairman's message discussed the necessity to continue outreach to the general public and policymakers regarding the importance of investing in infrastructure. The board and membership chose to make investing in this endeavor a priority and that process has already begun. We started by updating every candidate for governor and every member of the legislature on our position regarding the HURF raids, the rail yard at Piccacho Peak, the copper mines being proposed, and many other issues of importance to our industry and the market. All contractors received a hard copy of this policy document.
At our last board meeting we challenged ourselves to stay disciplined about picking messages that helped both the long-term and short-term strategy for infrastructure investment. How do we manage our resources to support short-term transportation revenue opportunities while ensuring we have an effective long-term strategy that truly addresses the state's shortfall? Staff and the board are working on a well-thought-out road map that will make it more clear how to proceed.
In the meantime, there are some encouraging signs that our message is working in some cases, but not in others. In a previous e-bulletin it was reported that Speaker Tobin's HB2692 unanimously passed out of the house transportation committee. HB2692 requires the highway patrol portion of the DPS budget to be taken from the general fund instead of the HURF. This bill will stop the transfer of HURF funds for two years, which is a total of approximately $240 million. Unfortunately we are beginning to hear that some in the legislature do not support the bill. In the house appropriations committee, the bill passed but did not receive a unanimous vote like it did in the transportation committee. Representatives Boyer, Ugenti and Olson all voted against the bill on the basis that it should be part of the overall budget discussion. Representative Olson called the bill an "...increase in spending..." and is "...added spending...". Really? Nonetheless, the bill got out of committee 7-3. Representatives Alston, Forese, Gray, Kwasman, Mach, Sherwood and Kavanaugh supported the bill. We are also hearing that support for the entire appropriation is losing support in the senate. Furthermore, the transfers continue in the governor's budget proposal.
HB2692 is a bill that needs to be a target of our outreach efforts. Legislators that support and oppose this bill should hear from the entire transportation community, taxpayers and travelling public. With the revenue from your assessment, we intend to make the point that many in the community -- including mayors, councilmembers, and boards of supervisors -- are weary of the continual raids on the HURF.
As we proceed to protect your interests, it is important to note that these short-term encounters to maintain investment in infrastructure only scratch the surface of statewide need. Arizona and its communities still have a horrific funding shortfall that must be addressed at some time. For now we must be vigilant at protecting the transportation community's interests in the short-term so we can catapult our efforts to a more long-term solution.
Thank you very much for your continued support of the industry. Listen for our message to policymakers coming in the very near future.
Doug DeClusin, Chairman
Arizona Chapter Associated General Contractors
P.S. Save the Date for the chapter's 80th Anniversary Celebration and Awards Banquet with a special tribute to Life Directors. The event will be the evening of April 11, 2014 at the Arizona Biltmore. More details are forthcoming.