Senator Steve Pierce: Boosting Arizona’s Economy

By Arizona State Senator Steve Pierce

How “Racinos” Could Save our State

This past session was one that had many interesting turns. We created the Arizona Commerce Authority, which makes the state more competitive in bringing new businesses to the state and expanding existing ones. We passed a package of tax cuts, phasing down the corporate income tax, eliminating payroll and property taxes for Arizona companies selling products out-of-state, and cutting property taxes for Arizonans. We passed the first balanced budget in five years, saved the state’s retirement system, saw demonstrations with the now infamous bullhorn, and made cuts, cuts, and more cuts.

For the third year, these cuts were significant. The Legislature’s primary mission is to pass a balanced budget, and we finally did it with no gimmicks, no new rollovers, and no new borrowing. We did what we expect everyone to do: live within our means. In the past, we have burdened the state with a great amount of debt that will take years to pay off, simply to avoid having to make these difficult but necessary cuts. This session there was no alternative–we did what needed to be done, and my caucus is content with these decisions. There is definitely still room for improvement in select areas, such as DES, and we can find these reforms with the help of the new director, Clarence Carter.

I believe we have to continue to make reforms that make the state leaner and more efficient, and this session has given us a great start. Now, we need to start looking for additional revenues.

Because the Republican caucuses in both the Senate and the House believe that raising taxes is not an option, we have to look toward new sources. So, what might those be?

First, tobacco is taxed at an enormous two dollars per pack. If voters can be swayed into passing legislation to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, why not find a tax that is fitting for this? If we taxed marijuana at the same rate as tobacco, we could raise as much as $4.8 million This is one place where I believe we can find some of the revenues we need to help pull Arizona out of its economic slump.

Another source of revenue we could look at is the concept of racinos, an idea that has been brought up and discussed heavily within our Legislature in the past. Never before did we want to consider the expansion of gaming in the state. However, times have changed and drastic situations call upon us to reconsider this issue. Our economy is in shambles and the state debt is catastrophic. We owe $1.1 billion on a mortgage of the Capitol, another $1 billion in education rollovers, and yet another $1 billion in the state’s deficit. How will we ever be able to rebuild our infrastructure, our parks, fund education, and keep AHCCCS alive without looking for other sources of revenue? We have to find more funding for Arizona without damaging our frail economy, and we should consider gaming as a means to do this. Recent studies show that with the implementation of racinos, we could make close to $300 million for the state’s General Fund in the first year alone, and could grow to $1 billion/year in the next few years.

Some naysayers claim that we should not permit gambling in Arizona. Clearly, they are not aware that we already allow it. For example, you can buy lottery tickets in the DES cafeteria right now. Take a drive down just about any major freeway and eventually you will see the enormous casinos on which the Indian tribes now have a monopoly. If you recall the passage of Prop 301, we limited the transparency of what we gain from casino gambling in the state, and we will not know exactly what percentage we actually receive for many years. It has been good for the tribes and will continue to be, but what many people do not realize is how good it could be for Arizona as a whole. Granting our state the right to have limited gaming would help agencies statewide, and therefore it is an option we should ponder closely.

These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary solutions. We have to look at every possible option, and racinos should be at the top of our list of considerations. They would bring innumerable jobs to the state, serving as a significant boost for Arizona’s economy. We should not dismiss the idea until we have carefully studied it first; it is a simple solution to a difficult problem.




  1. Oberserve says

    I consider this statement to be a bald-faced lie:

    “We created the Arizona Commerce Authority, which makes the state more competitive in bringing new businesses to the state and expanding existing ones. ”

    HOW does it make the state more competitive, Steve Pierce?
    HOW does it bring in new businesses?
    HOW does it expand new business?

    Did anyone actually READ the monstrosity this bill is?

    Did anyone note that it’s massive taxpayer giveaways to hand-picked businesses financed by DEBT/BOND sales which are underwritten by the TAXPAYER?

    Did anyone see the part about how the Commerce “Authority” can make loans to local cities and towns where the Commerce Authority then becomes the first lienholder on property owners where voters in those localities are LEGALLY BOUND AND UNABLE to change the terms of a contract the “Authority” makes with the locality?


    The “theory” behind it is that if the Commerce Authority can spend money raised by Muni bonds and hand it to their buddies that EVENTUALLY, if they spend enough, some jobs must be generated, right?

    Of course, the money they spend is money NOT spent or invested in the free market, thereby REMOVING jobs from the economy.

    Steve Pierce doesn’t tell you that part. Perhaps he relies on plausible deniability where he can claim he could not have known how the Commerce Authority HURTS the economy and taxpayers because he is not an economist.

    Of course, on the other hand then why would he vote YES on something where he is ignorant of its deleterious effect?


    Politicians routinely lie and sell out their constituents to special interests.

    Which is EXACTLY what happened here where Republican “conservatives” like Pearce, Brewer, Adams and, yes, Russell Pearce, sold out the taxpayers to the Arizona Corporation Commission and ex-Corporation Commission folks working on the governor’s staff who authored the bill.


    • your lying, you liberal idiot!!!!

      • Oberserve is definitely a communist and wants to make Arizona a mexican state which will disappear the moment a terrorist crosses the border! Steve is not lying!!!!!


    • We Latinos live in his district and support Steve! I cannot stand people who hate like this person. They probably do not even live here!!! Steve Pierce is great for Arizona!!! ViVa STEVE

  2. Phillip the Great says

    Funny how quickly I tend to ignore comments in all caps.

    Gambling is a lot of fun and while it can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. It’s no different than other forms of recreation, like travel and attending sporting events. Having casinos in already-existing places like Turf Paradise would be entirely appropriate, I don’t even think the horses would mind.

    In fact, people already gamble quite a bit in the stock market, their purchase of a home, even deciding what kind of car to buy. Poker is the same thing, but the game is played over a much shorter term.

  3. What Steve Pierce fails to disclose is that he races quarter horses. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) -which is one of the biggest supporters of horse slaughter- celebrated their 7 millionth foal, and reported over 140,000 foals in 2009. This is approximately the same number as the number of U.S. horses slaughtered. Would it be possible that their motives be related to the fact that they need that same amount of horses to go to slaughter in order to make way for their new stock and keep prices falsely inflated?

    Racinos would prop up horse racing.

    He also fails to point out that racinos would cancel the existing pact and income that Arizona gets from Indian gaming casinos. Racinos are a wild card, an unknown risk, whereby Indian gaming is a sure thing.

    Racinos would expand both horse racing and dog racing which have stumbled on their own merits.

    Both are already cruel and inhumane.

    Racinos would prop up the dying sport of dog racing where greyhounds are exploited for a two dollar bet. Arizona is one of seven states where dogs still race. Dogs are euthanized because of vague statutes that are not enforced. Dogs routinely break their legs and hocks, suffer heart attacks and paralysis, are shot up with steroids to prevent estrus, eat 4D meat from dead, dying, downer, and diseased animals (the FDA does not condone 4D meat), confined in small cages for hours on end, and disappear.

    There are many ways Arizona can raise funds and reduce governmental waste, racinos is not one of them.

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