Supporters of a ballot proposal to increase Arizona’s  sales tax to 6.6% from the current 5.6% to finance transportation projects last week filed official papers with the secretary of state to begin the petition drive for a spot on the November ballot.

The additional 1% tax would generate $42.6 billion during its 30-year span, according to leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Moving AZ’s Economy Coalition. If approved, the increase would go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

Backers of the proposal have until June 3 to collect signatures from 153,365 registered voters.

Gov. Janet Napolitano said in a statement that she supports the initiative.

The ballot measure would allow the Arizona Transportation Board to issue 30-year bonds supported by the additional sales tax. The board’s highway revenue bonds are rated AAA by Standard & Poor’s and Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service.

Transportation projects that could be financed with the additional sales tax include expansion of several interstate highways, commuter rail between Phoenix and Tucson, expanding the light-rail system currently under construction in the Phoenix area, additional rapid transit buses, and a streetcar or bus system in Tucson.

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