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Wheatley/ Goodman: Funding crucial to growth


On Jan. 12, 2024, Governor Hobbs released her Fiscal Year 2024-25 Executive Budget Proposal.

While we recognize the state is facing a budgetary shortfall this year, we didn’t expect to see a proposed clawback of funding in the amount of $87.5 million for the State Route 24, a critical freeway in the Southeast Valley and Pinal County which needs to be extended.

This area encompasses the fastest growing community in the entire State (Queen Creek), the Southeastern portion of the third largest municipality in Arizona (Mesa), a large unincorporated community over 100,000 in population known as San Tan Valley (Pinal County), and 10,000 new residential homes planned (Apache Junction) on State Trust Land.

The inclusion of $87.5 million in last year’s state budget, signed by the governor herself, recognized the need for additional investment in this portion of the state. Funding the extension of this freeway east and an interchange at Ironwood Road, is an economic development win and enhances the value of the

State Trust Lands it traverses. The State Trust Land proceeds go to fund critical state services, including K-12 education.

The state, Pinal County and the town have received significant interest from high profile advanced manufacturers looking to locate in Arizona. This follows the announcement of a $5.5 billion commitment from LG Energy Solution in the creation of the largest investment ever for a stand-alone battery manufacturing facility in North America. A new freeway further makes this area more attractive, adding more jobs and more efficient access.

The proposed elimination of this funding is a missed opportunity on the part of the Governor, and the state. Local communities count on these appropriations to deliver key infrastructure projects and seek opportunities to supplement them with federal or regional funding. As budget negotiations begin, we urge legislators to fight to retain this funding and find other opportunities to reduce spending which do not result in adverse impacts to regional transportation and economic development opportunities.

For anyone interested in contacting their State Legislator, full contact information can be found at www.azleg.gov. To contact the Governor, visit https://azgovernor.gov/office-arizonagovernor/form/voice-an-opinion.

Julia Wheatley & Mike Goodman

Editor's note: Julia Wheatley is mayor of Queen Creek and Mike Goodman sits on the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.