Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said voters will need to invest in the city of Tucson if it is going to thrive.
"In my 30 years in business, I learned this: You cannot cut your way to prosperity," Rothschild said today in his fifth State of the City address. "At some point, you have to invest, and that means looking at the revenue side of the equation."
Rothschild spent a big part of the speech to a full house at the Tucson Convention Center highlighting recent wins for the city: the ongoing revitalization of downtown, the success of his efforts to get homeless vets off the streets, the 613 lane miles of streets that have been repaved since voters approved road bonds in 2012 and other accomplishments.
And he said he was committed to offering voters the chance to change the current election system, which nominates candidates by ward in the primary who then run citywide, giving Democrats a commanding advantage on Election Day.
He also acknowledged the city's financial problems. The City Council is now grappling with a $25 million budget shortfall. Rothschild laid some of the blame at the feet of state government, which has shifted costs onto the city.
But he said that Tucsonans can only count on themselves to fund city services.
"Services have to be paid for, and so we're going to have that conversation with the community," Rothschild said. "In fact, the conversation has already begun, with polling that indicates city voters are willing to consider a half-cent sales tax to support core services—roads, public safety, transit and parks."
He said the next step was developing a proposal for the voters.
"Soon, we'll be asking for a financial investment," Rothschild said. "And when we do, we'll have a detailed plan—like we did with the street bond—spelling out what core services the funds will be used for."
Here's a copy of the speech: