Pinal Assessor Calls on State Land to Act

union_pacific_red_rock
FLORENCE, AZ – Pinal County Assessor Douglas J. Wolf spoke out in favor of a resolution supporting the Union Pacific Classification Yard at Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Wolf stated that it is time for the Arizona Land Department to end their stonewalling of this economically valuable project.

“The State Land Department has a specific mission to achieve the highest financial return for their trustees. The Union Pacific project at Red Rock is a unique opportunity to add millions of dollars to the trust yet the Land Department is falsely claiming the project would reduce the value of their adjoining property. They are mistaken because a strategic infrastructure project like this would raise the value of the adjoining state land. It is time for the Land Department to do its job and allow the land in question to go to auction,” stated Mr. Wolf.

The classification yard would be on the east side of Interstate 10, north of the Red Rock interchange. This is a unique location because of the proximity to two rail tracks, two interstates (I-10 and I-8) and nearby airports. There is also ample space in this otherwise remote area to allow for future development of an inland port. Such a project could eventually result in thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars coming to Arizona. Union Pacific searched the southwestern United States for suitable locations for this particular use and found Red Rock and a site in New Mexico presented the best opportunities for success. If Arizona doesn’t act quickly, this company could place this major investment in another state.

Mr. Wolf concluded, “We have a well respected Fortune 500 company asking to create significant new jobs here without requesting a single penny in incentives. I cannot stand by silently as unelected bureaucrats at the State Land Department chase this once in a lifetime opportunity to New Mexico. I stand with the Pinal Board of Supervisors, elected officials from local communities, and with our state legislature in saying enough is enough. Let’s open Arizona for business and let’s do it now!”

Please visit this link for more information on the proposed rail yard, pinalcountyaz.gov/ed/Pages/UnionPacific.aspx.

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The Arizona We Want 2.0

The Arizona We Want 2.0: The Case for Action

(reprinted from Az Republic, Jan. 19, 2013)

​Lattie F. Coor, Chairman and CEO

​Center for the Future of Arizona

Capturing a complete and accurate picture of Arizona is a difficult task for, in reality, we are a state of contrasts.  We have vast, beautiful open spaces and yet we’re one of the most urban states in America. We have a significant number of senior citizens yet we also have one of the youngest populations in the nation.

So, too, are we a state of contrasts in our social and political endeavors.  We have high educational aspirations, yet low investment and performance. We recognize the need for a diverse, balanced economy that will yield a larger number of high paying jobs, yet population growth and housing remain our dominant economic identity. We will be one of the first states in the nation in which our “minority” population will be the majority, yet we are not adequately educating the younger members of our new majority for success in the economy of the future.

How do we turn our contrasts into strengths as we chart a clear and coherent way forward? In The Arizona We Want 2.0, a new report our Center is releasing this week, we are presenting a roadmap that will enable us as Arizonans to sort through the elements of the future we want for ourselves and the state in order to direct our collective activities in a more coherent manner.  Building on the insights gained from The Gallup Arizona Poll in 2009, and the vast array of meetings, discussions and activities that have occurred since the release of the original Arizona We Want report, the 2.0 report turns now to presenting very specific next steps we can take to move us toward that desired future.  Those specific steps are organized around the 8 goals expressed by Citizens in the original report.  Five of the goals – Education, Job Creation, Environment and Water, Infrastructure and Health Care — are leader driven requiring the collective action of leaders around the state.  Three of the goals – Young Talent, Civic Engagement and Community Involvement – are citizen driven, requiring individual and collective action of citizens everywhere.

Making significant improvements in education and the economy are at the heart of the action plan presented by the report.  “Fix Education – Fix the Economy” is the way the recent Morrison Institute report entitled Dropped put it.

Fortunately, major improvement in Arizona education is on the horizon with the full implementation of the Common Core Standards in the coming school year along with a more rigorous set of assessments, called PARCC, year after next.  The 2.0 report calls for adequate funding for these steps as well as a substantial increase in the number of Arizonans receiving college degrees and certificate-based job training over the next 10 years.  The recommendations not only tie education funding to student, teacher and school performance but also, seek to ensure that quality education is provided to all students regardless of socio-economic status.

Similarly, for job creation, the report not only calls for a significant increase in new jobs, 75,000, but also recommends focusing on jobs that will increase the average wage over time by 30% county by county. There is also an emphasis on strengthening and/or recruiting businesses that export at least 75% of their product, as well as a challenge to move our research and development expenditures into a ranking among the top 10 states.

Highlights of the remaining 6 goals of The Arizona We Want 2.0 include recommendations for the Environment and Water that 30,000 acres a year be thinned from our National Forests to reduce the fire danger and that at least 600,000 acres of State Trust Land be preserved for open space use.  With respect to water, the report recommends the adoption of at least three new regional and community plans to ensure sustainable uses of water and it also urges Arizona to establish itself as the nation’s leader in water conservation and usage. The goals for Infrastructure call for high speed broadband to be available throughout the state and for citizens to support local community commitments to upgrade streets, water and sewage treatment facilities and public transportation.  Health Care goals include a recommendation that we build upon the success of AHCCCS to provide coverage to more Arizonans, maximize federal dollars and that we develop a health workforce plan to meet Arizona’s future needs.

Since the Gallup Arizona Poll indicated that only 11% of our citizens thought Arizona was a good place for young college graduates, our report places major emphasis on recruiting and retaining talented young people.  It urges communities throughout the state to demonstrate that they value young people and recommends that we involve young people on boards and commissions and foster spaces and events that attract young talent

The final two goals of the report focus on civic engagement and community involvement and present the findings of the 2012 Arizona Civic Health Index report to guide the development of programs in each of those two areas.

Having worked with individuals and organizations throughout the state in preparing The Arizona We Want 2.0 report, we believe key leverage points for action are now ready for implementation.  We believe also that this is a critical moment for Arizona: we all have a vested interest in mobilizing around the citizens’ goals of the 2.0 report and aligning our efforts to achieve these goals. Success will be contingent on the collective effort of individuals and organizations throughout our state.  In light of the urgency and significance of this work, we have created The Arizona We Want Institute, chaired by Don Smith, President and CEO of SCF Arizona, to lead our part of the effort.  We strongly encourage individuals and organizations from across the state to join with us in forming alliances that will help us achieve the Arizona we want

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Proposition 116’s Fate Awaits Election Day

www.VoteYESon116.com

Facebook: Vote YES on 116

Twitter: @VoteYESon116

As the VoteYESon116 campaign heads into the home stretch, small business job creators are optimistic that Arizona’s voters will pass Proposition 116, the Small Business Job Creation Act. The unanimously-passed referendum would create new jobs in Arizona by rolling back the burdensome annual equipment and machinery tax that’s levied before a small business hires its first worker, makes its first sale or even turns a profit. To keep up on developments with the campaign, visit these sites and share them with your family, friends, neighbors and anyone who values your opinion: 

OFFICIAL RESOURCES

VoteYESon116 – visit the official “yes” campaign website to learn more about the referendum

“What’s on My Ballot? – Proposition 116, Arizona’s General Election Guide 2012” – an official publication of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office

NEWS COVERAGE

“Voters to decide fate of tax exemption for businesses” – newspaper coverage by the Arizona Republic’s Ryan Randazzo

“Proposition 116 supporters say it would spur hiring” – Cronkite News’ Sarah Pringle explains Proposition 116’s impact on job creation

“Prop. 116 supporters: Lower business property taxes would spur hiring” – wire service coverage at KTAR radio’s website from the Associated Press

“Prop 116: Business tax exemption on ballot” – newspaper coverage in the Yuma Sun by Capitol Media Service’s Howard Fischer

NEWSPAPER EDITORIALS

“Our position… Proposition 116: Support”Arizona Republic, October 18, 2012

“Courier: Yes on Proposition 116”Prescott Daily Courier, October 20, 2012 

“Proposition 116 — Yes”Casa Grande Dispatch, October 24, 2012 

“Vote for the good of business”Inside Tucson Business, October 12, 2012

“Proposition 116 would stimulate state economy”Yuma Sun, October 4, 2012

 

VIDEOS

VoteYESon116 “I’ll Hire” Commercial

VoteYESon116 “Cupcake” Commercial

“Vote 2012: Proposition 116” – a 7 minute 23 second video from Eight, Arizona PBS’s Arizona Horizon program on Proposition 116 with NFIB’s Farrell Quinlan

“Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s 2012 Ballot Measure Town Hall. Proposition 116 – Taxes on Business Equipment & Machinery” – a two-minute video on why voters should pass Proposition 116 featuring NFIB/Arizona’s Farrell Quinlan

“Proposition 116 increases tax exemption for businesses” – a 1 minute 26 second video from Cronkite News reporter Mugo Odigwe features small-business-owner Margie Long of Hot Air Expeditions and NFIB’s Farrell Quinlan on the effects of Proposition 116 on job creation

ORGANIZATIONAL ENDORSEMENTS

Americans For Prosperity – Arizona
American Rental Association – Arizona
AMIGOS (Arizona Mining and Industry Gets Our Support)
Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association
Arizona Cattle Grower’s Association
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Arizona Farm Bureau Federation
Arizona Multihousing Association
Arizona Technology Council
Chandler Chamber of Commerce
Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce
Goldwater Institute
Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
National Federation of Independent Business – Arizona
Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce
Printing Industries of Arizona
Tempe Chamber of Commerce
Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce
United Dairymen of Arizona
Western Growers

VOTER GUIDE: Democrat Kyrsten Sinema on Taxes, in Her Own Words [ @KyrstenSinema ]

Democrat congressional candidate and criminal defense lawyer Kyrsten Sinema served for six years in the State House under Republican control, and one year in the State Senate under Republican control. She complained throughout those years that Arizona families were undertaxed. She even called Arizona “our tax-starved state.” Fortunately, Republicans would not let tax increase bills be voted on during her years in office, denying her a chance to raise your taxes. (Now, like a guy who kills his parents then pleads for mercy as an orphan, Sinema boasts she did not vote for tax increases, after complaining for years that the GOP would not act on her tax increase demands!) She must think Arizona voters are stupid … or perhaps leeches. Let’s look at her own words.

Here is Sinema’s state tax increase plan as provided to the Arizona Republic. Note that each one of her ideas would devastate entire sectors of the state’s economy:

[R]aising taxes is more economically sound than cutting vital social services …. In Arizona, there are a number of techniques that we could use …. Broadening the sales tax to include services, closing exemptions on sales tax items, reinstating the state property tax, and eliminating tax credits are just some of the strategies to create a more broad revenue stream to fund Arizona’s important programs. I do not support irresponsible pledges to “not raise taxes” … our tax-starved state relies on.

We are a starved budget in a recession…. As mentioned above, I advocate broadening the sales tax to include taxing personal and business services, such as telemarketing, auto repair, and hair and manicure services. This alone would generate roughly $565 million to the state budget per year. I support restoring the sales tax to items currently exempted, such as health club memberships. By restoring the sales tax by closing these exemptions, the state’s revenue would increase about $1.4 billion per year. I support expanding the sales tax to include Internet sales…. I advocate eliminating tax credits such as the education tax credit … and the enterprise zone tax credit.

Wow: by her own calculations, in a failing economy, she is demanding $2 BILLION annually in new state taxes, and that’s not even counting her plan to reinstate the state property tax. She is virtually alone in America in calling for tax increases during a recession.

Separately, she promised to “greatly increase” capital gains taxes on families and “greatly increase” corporate taxes. [“Kyrsten Sinema – Political Positions,” Project Vote Smart 2006.] America already has the highest corporate taxes in the world, which helps drive jobs overseas. Even Barack Obama said he is open to reducing the corporate tax rate. What’s more, guess what happens when corporate taxes are increased? Companies raise their prices. So this is a hidden way for liberal Democrats to stick it to the middle class to fund their pet projects: raise taxes on businesses, and the higher retail prices that result are seldom linked back to the politicians who caused it.

But there’s more! Sinema wrote a bill to create a new, 25-CENT TAX on EVERY plastic bag you use at a supermarket, convenience store, fast food restaurant and other retail establishment – even including dry cleaner bags. She’d also nail you with a 15 cent tax for every paper bag. That’ll teach those work at home moms she calls leeches!

She also opposed a 2008 Arizona ballot initiative to ban all real property sales or transfer taxes, and another one to make it harder to raise taxes or increase government spending by requiring initiatives to pass by a majority of all registered voters. She called them “stinkers” and organized a group to oppose them. [“Unite and Conquer: How to build coalitions that win—and last,” by Kyrsten Sinema (2009), p. 67.]

What about federal taxes?

In June of this year, Sinema said we should let all the Bush-Obama tax relief expire this coming January, which would be a $5.4 TRILLION tax increase over 10 years. Even her Democratic primary opponents were flabbergasted by this job-killing promise. Fellow Democrat Andrei Cherny wrote:

“this is not the time to be raising taxes on the middle class. Just recently, one of my opponents, Kyrsten Sinema, vowed to repeal the Bush tax cuts in total …. This speaks to her values and approach and I think it is the wrong way to deal with a middle class that is getting battered.”

The Sinema tax increase would nail every middle class taxpayer in America and drive our teetering economy off a cliff. US economic growth in 2012 under President Obama is less than 2% (by contrast, growth in China is around 8%). Her tax increase would send us back into recession.

Finally, consider all her massive promises of more and bigger government programs: where will she get the funding for all of them? As a member of Obama’s health care taskforce, she already helped craft his healthcare takeover bill, Obamacare, which includes a $716 BILLION cut to Medicare over the next 10 years. She can’t pay for all her promises by raiding Medicare — she’ll need to jack up taxes, including on working families and job-creators. That’s bad news for all of us.

Kyrsten Sinema has been quite candid about her plans to raise your taxes. Will you let her? The clear choice for Arizona is Vernon Parker.

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The writer can be reached via Twitter. Be sure to share this with Arizona taxpayers you know.

Lessons from Texas on Building an Economically Healthier Arizona

By Byron Schlomach, Ph.D., Goldwater Institute

During the recent recession, the experience of Texas provides a marked contrast to that of Arizona. Arizona’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell at more than double the rate in the nation while Texas’s GDP barely fell at all. Texas’s employment in 2011 was at an all-time high and even greater than in 2007; by contrast, Arizona’s total employment in 2011 was 10 percent below its peak. Although most of the nation has seen hard times like Arizona has since 2007, Arizona’s economic challenges did not begin with the Great Recession. In fact, Arizona’s inflation-adjusted per capita income has lagged the nation’s for decades and stands steady at around 87 percent of the national level. While Arizona’s per capita personal income growth was fifth lowest among the states, Texas’s was seventh highest despite a large influx of people without jobs.

Arizona performs poorly because it taxes and regulates as if it were a state with natural advantages that can absorb bad public policy. In a comparison of several economic policy indexes between Arizona and its six neighbor states, Arizona outranks only California and New Mexico. These policy indexes include measures of economic freedom, business friendliness, tax systems and burdens, and cost of living. Texas ranks first in one measure, ranks second in two measures, and receives eight top-10 rankings.

Although many think oil and gas are the secret of Texas’s success, energy production is half the relative size of Texas’s economy now compared to what it was in the 1980s. The real secret is Texas’s policies. Those policies include no personal income tax, relatively low business taxes, a mostly simple tax structure that is fairly easy to enforce and comply with, gentle regulation that allows its natural advantages to be exploited, and private ownership of most of the state’s land.

Arizona has its advantages, including mineral wealth, balmy winters, stable geology, an outsized allocation from the Colorado River, and an advantageous state constitution that protects individual property rights and liberties. Arizona’s natural disadvantages are significant and very costly, though. They include lack of access to a water port, remoteness from the majority of Americans who live near and east of the Mississippi River, relatively limited labor and energy resources, and geological features that are visually stunning but topography that presents a surface transportation nightmare. Lawmakers need to take these issues into account when formulating policy and not add costs in a state that is already at some cost disadvantages.

The experience of Texas shows that Arizona can best exploit its comparative advantages with lean, unobtrusive government. The state should adopt Texas-style policies that (1) lower taxes and keep them low; (2) simplify the tax system, especially sales taxes and property taxes; (3) restructure the tax system to eliminate income taxes; (4) reduce business property taxes; (5) reduce regulations such as licensing, land use planning, and zoning; (6) sell state trusts, increasing the stock of private land; and (7) reduce the size of government and end state revenue sharing with local government.

Read “Lessons from Texas on Building an Economically Healthier Arizona” 

Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry Opposes Proposition 204

The Arizona Chamber has long championed the development of an education system that prepares our state’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Such a system may require increased funding, but it also needs greater accountability, more tools to help struggling schools and students, and clear, measurable goals. Unfortunately, Proposition 204 fails in this regard.

Vote No on 204

Vote NO on 204!

In recent years, the Chamber supported reforms that help get more science, technology, engineering and mathematics educators into the classroom; increase accountability measures to ensure better school performance; assign easy-to-understand letter grade assessments of schools; increase school choice; increase funding to ensure third graders can read; and allow high achieving students to get a jump start on their college careers.

The Chamber recognizes that a high-performing education system requires the financial resources necessary to produce a highly qualified workforce. To that end, the Chamber strongly supported Proposition 100 in 2010, which established a temporary one cent per dollar sales tax that, among other things, helped prevent deep cuts to the K-12 system during the economic downturn.

Despite what proponents of Proposition 204 might say, it is not an extension of the current sales tax that is set to expire on May 31, 2013. This is an entirely new permanent tax with new implications for policymakers and our state.

This new permanent tax does not increase accountability nor does it demand increased achievement from our education system. Arizona voters, who will commit around one billion dollars annually, deserve more.

We urge voters to oppose Proposition 204.

Glenn Hamer, President & CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Phoenix

Doug Yonko, Chairman, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Phoenix

Doug Ducey: Remember When They Promised the One-Cent Sales Tax Would Be Temporary?

Dear Friends,

I am emailing you to thank you for all the support we continue to receive as we speak with hard-working Arizonans on the dangers of Proposition 204. It has been amazing to see how many people care about Arizona’s fiscal future.

We are greatly pleased with our momentum and the overwhelming number of voters we speak with who are voting NO on Prop 204. But we still need your help to get the message out about how Prop 204 is a PERMANENT sales tax increase that is a bad idea for Arizona families. We were promised the sales tax increase would be temporary, but now special interest groups are taking advantage of the sacrifice voters made in 2010 and asking for a $1 BILLION dollar tax hike that lasts FOREVER.

This week we launched our first television ad, “Temporary.”

YouTube Preview Image

Will you please help this ad stay on TV? We are facing a well-funded network of government unions and special interest groups and we need your help to get the facts out on how damaging Prop 204 will be to our local economy. Please consider a donation by clicking HERE.

Any amount is greatly appreciated. Help us spread the word and stay up on the air across the state through Election Day.

Thank you so much for your help. Together we can send the clear sign that Arizona is open for business and that we want real education reform, not special interest giveaways. Vote No on Prop 204!

Thank you,

Doug Ducey
Arizona State Treasurer
Chairman – No New Taxes, No on Prop 204

Vote NO on 204!

The Hidden Cost of the Income Tax

By Stephen Slivinski, Goldwater Institute

Decades of experience have shown us that high taxes dampen economic growth. State policymakers hoping to encourage job growth are right to worry about their state’s tax load on the private sector.

What needs more attention than it gets now is what a state taxes. As it turns out, most states actually rely on the very tax that slows job growth the most: the income tax.

Most states, for instance, assess higher income tax rates on those with higher incomes. Not only does that penalize those who are most successful in the private sector, it inhibits job growth by making small businesses – which are typically the creators of the largest share of jobs in most states and pay their income taxes through the personal income tax code – pay higher taxes the more they grow.

States with graduated-rate income taxes, like Arizona, also tend to see government revenues grow faster than personal incomes and that means the government gets richer faster than the private sector. That’s always bad for long-term economic growth.

The best way out of the trap is to eliminate the tax that is the most damaging to economic growth. Eliminating the income tax in Arizona could not only remedy these problems but also help launch the state into the ranks of the economic powerhouses like Texas. This policy change could still create more than 20,000 new jobs in the first year because it gets rid of the hidden economic costs associated with an income tax.

Every state has natural advantages and disadvantages that policymakers cannot control. But they can control tax policy. Getting rid of the income tax is the only policy bold enough to fundamentally boost long-term economic growth in Arizona.

Stephen Slivinski is a senior economist at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: A New Tax Plan for a New Economy: How Eliminating the Income Tax Can Create Jobs

Cato Institute: State Income Taxes and Economic Growth

National Taxpayers Union Foundation: The Economic Impact of the Adoption of a State Income Tax in New Hampshire

Eliminating Arizona’s Income Tax Could Create 20,000 New Jobs in First Year

Phoenix, AZ—Eliminating Arizona’s state income tax could put 20,000 people to work in the first year alone and business activity in the state could rise by an additional $419 million each year, finds a new Goldwater Institute policy report released Thursday.

And Arizonans would have more money in their pockets to save, spend or invest.

In A New Tax Plan for a New Economy: How Eliminating the Income Tax Can Create Jobs, Goldwater Institute Senior Economist Stephen Slivinski argues that the income tax makes Arizona less attractive than our neighbors when companies want to expand and create new jobs, it takes hard-earned money out of worker’s pockets, and creates instability in state revenue levels. Slivinski recommends that lawmakers eliminate the income tax outright and shift to a broad-based sales tax.

“We are falling behind neighboring states in economic recovery, and just tweaking Arizona’s tax code around the edges will not bring about the long-term job growth that we need,” said Slivinski. “Eliminating the income tax is the only proposal bold enough to dramatically boost new economic growth and drive widespread job creation.”

Slivinski argues that Arizona’s tax structure is outdated, weighing the state down and getting in the way of long-term economic and job growth. Arizona lost nearly 300,000 jobs during the recession and has an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, among the highest in the nation.

According to Slivinski, eliminating the state income tax would make Arizona more attractive to companies who want to expand. When job-creators can keep more of their earnings to reinvest in their businesses, they are more likely to expand and hire new workers. Under this tax plan, Arizona workers will enjoy not only more opportunities to find work, they will also keep more of the money they earn.

National economic data shows that states without an income tax see substantially stronger economic growth than the national average and states with income taxes. In Texas, for example, where there is no income tax, the state gained over 400,000 new jobs between May of 2007 and May of 2012, and the state has regained all the jobs that it lost during the recession.

Besides creating jobs and letting families keep more of their paychecks, eliminating the income tax will also help stabilize the state budget. Having a budget dependent on income taxes make state revenues more vulnerable to economic ups and downs, according to Slivinski. Income taxes make up nearly half of all state revenues and they are much more volatile than sales taxes. During a boom period in the economy, as incomes spike, so too does tax revenue, which allows for large increases in government spending. But when a recession hits and incomes dive, so too do tax collections and there is a big reduction in state revenues. This was a major cause of the most recent budget deficits and sent policymakers scrambling to cover the new spending they took on during the boom period.

In his report, Slivinski shows how to eliminate the income tax, keep the sales tax at the rate it is now, and still bring in the same amount of government revenue we see today. The report also recommends reforms to maximize this tax plan’s effectiveness, including unifying the sales tax base statewide and creating a constitutional amendment to stop state and local governments from creating an income tax in the future.

“By taking steps to eliminate the income tax, Arizona will signal to job-creators around the country that we are open for business and committed to making our state competitive,” said Slivinski. “The faster a plan to eliminate the income tax is enacted, the stronger the economic boost our state will receive.”

To read Stephen Slivinski’s biography, click here.

To read the report, click here.

The Goldwater Institute protects America’s greatest inheritance—the liberty and economic freedom of the individual—by holding government accountable and standing up for regular taxpayers just like you. Lear more about the Goldwater Institute at www.goldwaterinstitute.org.

Sewers vs. Sports Arenas

By Stephen Slivinski, Goldwater Institute

When government issues debt, you probably think it’s paying for the construction of a highway or water and sewer improvements – the sort of things that we usually expect government to provide.

For almost a quarter of state and local government debt in Arizona, however, the bonds pay for projects that directly benefit private interests instead of the public at large. And none of this debt is subject to the constitutional debt limits, nor did voters approve much of it.

The city of Glendale, Ariz. is a prime example of what can happen when government is not bound by constitutional debt limits. Over 40 percent of Glendale’s current long-term debt load ($475 million out of just over $1.12 billion in debt) goes to finance the hockey arena, the Cardinals stadium, hotel and retail centers, and subsidies to retail giant Cabelas. Glendale has used financing methods that keep its debt outside of the debt limits in the state constitution.

Repayment of the bonds is premised on the revenue that these projects are expected to generate from, say, well-attended hockey games or highly popular retail centers. But if that revenue never materializes, as has happened often, someone else will have to pay the bonds. Taxpayers are the likely target.

One way to protect the public’s money from special debt-financed subsidies to private interests is to put an overall cap on all government debt and to subject all local debt issuance to voter approval. These steps would require elected officials to make the case to voters that a bond to give subsidies to a sports team or a big retail corporation is more important than keeping open some of their bonding capacity for things like sewer improvements or public safety. When the trade-offs are so explicit, it’s unlikely that voters will approve letting local governments abuse their power to issue debt.

Stephen Slivinski is a senior economist at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Cutting up the Credit Cards: Seven Ideas to Reform the Culture of Debt in State and Local Government

Goldwater Institute: Debt and Taxes: Arizona Taxpayers on Hook for $66 Billion Tab Run Up by State, Local Governments

City of Glendale: Debt Management Plan