Wednesday, February 27, 2008

AZ Fed. of Taxpayers: Anti-Corporate-Welfare Bill Passes Senate Committee

Yesterday, an important anti-boondoggle bill, SCR 1028, was approved by the Arizona Senate's Financial Institutions, Insurance, and Retirement Committee. If passed by the Legislature during the current session, SCR 1028 would allow voters in November to strengthen constitutional provisions prohibiting public funds (taxpayer money) from being given as gifts or loans to private businesses.

The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity encourages its grassroots taxpayer activists to thank the three members of the FIIR Committee who voted in favor of the reform bill:

Sen. Pamela Gorman (R-6, North Phoenix, Anthem), pgorman@azleg.gov

Sen. John Huppenthal (R-20, Ahwatukee, Chandler), jhuppenthal@azleg.gov

Sen. Thayer Verschoor (R-22, Gilbert), tverschoor@azleg.gov

AFP Arizona also thanks the Pima Association of Taxpayers for getting out the word on this important bill, and John Kromko of Tucson for coming to the Legislature yesterday to testify in favor of the bill.

The Committee members who voted against the reform bill were:

Sen. Debbie McCune Davis (D-14, West-Central Phoenix), dmccunedavis@azleg.gov

Sen. Rebecca Rios (D-23, Pinal County), rrios@azleg.gov

The Arizona Constitution's existing anti-boondoggle provisions should be very clear, but in recent decades, the Arizona Supreme Court has allowed large loopholes for gifts and loans that are supposedly for “public” purposes. Among the gifts to private businesses allowed by the Court's loose interpretation are subsidies for sporting-goods stores (such as the Cabela's in Glendale), automobile dealerships (such as Scottsdale's Motor Mile), shopping centers (Riverview in Mesa, City North in Phoenix, Prasada in Surprise, to name a very few), and various stadiums and sports facilities from Tempe to Tucson.

AFP Arizona also asks its members to send notes of thanks to the following Legislators for introducing the bill:

Sen. Karen Johnson (R-18, Mesa), kjohnson@azleg.gov

Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D-15, Central Phoenix), kcheuvront@azleg.gov

Sen. Robert Blendu (R-12, Litchfield Park), rblendu@azleg.gov

Sen. Ron Gould (R-3, Lake Havasu City, Mohave County), rgould@azleg.gov

To read the (very short) bill language, click here.

For more about abuses that have been justified under the prevailing judicial interpretation of the Arizona Constitution's gift ban clause, use this URL to find Benjamin Barr's report from the Goldwater Institute.

Contact: Tom Jenney, Arizona state director, Americans for Prosperity tjenney@afphq.org (602) 478-0146.

1 comment:

Bill43 said...

You call SCR 1028 "an important anti-boondoggle bill." Great, if that's what it is. I don't want to see a penny of public money going to attract a car dealer to move out of one community and settle in another.

But I'm worried that SCR 1028 may go too far. The language it proposes would prohibit the use of public funds to private businesses for "any public or private purpose." This is what voters would be asked to approve and it would be tempting.

However, would this language prohibit the types of arrangements that brought Intel to Chandler and allowed for the recent expansion? These investments of tax credits and other public help made it possible to attract a much-sought-after employer. Intel has created thousands of well-paying jobs. It would be a shame to lose that flexibility because legislators and the voting public put funding decisions on automatic pilot.

I hope I'm wrong about SCR 1028. I'd be glad to be educated.