Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Goldwater Institute: Budget transparency is worth the cost

A bill that would require local governments to disclose how they spend our money passed the House Government committee a few weeks ago. One member who voted against HB 2615 said transparency was a good concept but the cost of posting information might not be worth the trade-off.

magnifying glassThe bill would modify state law to require local governments to post online comprehensive information about expenditures by 2011, something state government will also be required to do in 2011. Besides the general benefit of bringing accountability to government spending, this requirement would eliminate the necessity of charging citizens for information requested under public records laws.

Currently, the financial costs and time of obtaining public records are borne by the curious taxpayer. Often this requires repeated requests and clarifications. In a 2008 audit of open records compliance, researchers from the University of Arizona found that 40 percent of school districts and 44 percent of police departments ignored the law entirely. Once a request has been fulfilled, often the costs of copying information must be covered by the requester.

Posting financial information online will involve an initial expense to the government, although many states and local governments have found economical ways to do it. For example, Missouri's spending website is one of the most comprehensive and is estimated to have cost under $300,000. Moreover, if there is an expense that is worthwhile, it is an effort that will ensure greater thrift and accountability in government. Exposing one overly generous contract or particularly wasteful state agency could recover the cost of creating the website. I, for one, think that's a fair trade-off.
Byron Schlomach, Ph.D, is director of economic policy at the Goldwater Institute.

Arizona Legislature: HB 2615

Goldwater Institute: Tax Hike to Cause 14,400 Lost Jobs as State's Economic Output Falls by $1.2 Billion

Tax Hike to Cause 14,400 Lost Jobs as State's Economic Output Falls by $1.2 Billion
New economic model shows proposed tax hike has hefty price tag for Arizona families
Phoenix--To close the state's budget deficit Governor Jan Brewer has proposed a $1 billion tax increase. New findings announced today show that if the State of Arizona were to implement a $1 billion sales tax increase, 14,400 private jobs would be lost.

These new findings are the result of economic modeling conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. The Goldwater Institute asked Beacon Hill to examine the impact of a $1 billion sales tax increase on employment, state economic output, and incomes.

Beacon Hill found that a $1 billion sales tax increase would cause the state to lose 14,400 private sector jobs; the state's real economic output would decline by $1.2 billion; and Arizonans would see their total after-tax income, already hit hard by recession, fall by $760 million, or almost $300 per household on average.

In addition to the $1 billion tax increase proposed by the governor, Arizona property owners face a tax increase in July when the state equalization tax comes back on the books. Lawmakers and the governor could decide to permanently repeal this tax. In the event that lawmakers choose not to repeal it, and even if it becomes the only tax increase to go into effect this year, almost 4,000 private jobs and $385 million in after-tax income will be lost.

"The Beacon Hill Institute has an excellent reputation for modeling the real effects of tax changes," said economist Dr. Byron Schlomach, Director of the Goldwater Institute's Center for Economic Prosperity. "These numbers show that these tax increases will hurt our economic recovery by putting more Arizonans out of work."
The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

Goldwater Institute: The Era of Big Local Government Is Over

The financial desperation among America's local governments is so consuming that cities in Los Angeles County were recently caughttrying to sell their promised federal stimulus checks at a discount for cash. This was either the municipal equivalent of seeking payday loans or a clever attempt to avoid the strings attached to federal money. Either way, it evidenced the lengths to which cities will go to avoid confronting a stark fiscal reality: without structural reforms, municipal insolvency will only be delayed.

phx skylineLocal governments everywhere are on the brink of financial ruin. Based on the March 6, 2009 market value of its investments, the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement Fund is approximately 42 percent funded. To maintain existing benefits for law enforcement and fire department personnel, local governments will need to vastly increase contributions to the Fund, massively raise tax revenues, engage in mass layoffs or file bankruptcy.

And tax revenues continue to plummet. Tempe's sales tax revenues dropped 9.2 percent during the four months leading into November 2008. The bursting of the real estate bubble has dissipated property tax revenues. Fees are disappearing too. Chandler--formerly one of the fastest growing cities in the country--reportedly issued onebuilding permit last month.

The Goldwater Institute recently published A New Charter for American Cities, which makes the case for adopting a "Local Liberty Charter" to focus local government on efficiently furnishing the no frills law-and-order needed to secure liberty. Stripping local governments down to core functions is no longer a debating point. It's an imperative.
Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute's Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.

Learn more:

Rep. Franks to Introduce Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act

Members of Congress Join Day Gardner, and Rev. Clenard Childress, and other Community Leaders to Call for an End to Race- and Sex-Selection Abortion


1:00 p.m. EST – Cannon Terrace

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-02), a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, will host a press conference on Tuesday to introduce the Prenatal Nondiscrimation Act (“PreNDA”). PreNDA would prohibit knowingly performing or soliciting funding for race- or sex-selection abortion.

What: Press conference introducing the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act


· Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ)

· Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN), Republican Conference Chairman

· Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)

· Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO)

· Day Gardner — President, National Black Pro-Life Union

· Reverend Clenard Childress — Northeast Region President of the Life Education And Resource Network (L.E.A.R.N.)

· Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women for America

When: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 1:00p.m. EST

Where: Cannon Terrace (northeast corner of the House Cannon building, offIndependence Avenue)

Contact: Bethany Barker, 202-631-1778 (cell) or Bethany.barker@mail.house.gov

It is estimated that as many as 50% of African-American babies conceived in the U.S. each year are eliminated by government subsidized abortion providers. Following the unearthing of the nation-wide race-targeted abortion donations,civil rights activists and African-American pastors from across the country protested government acquiescence in race-targeted abortion and the government funding of clinics that they believe are purposefully placed in the inner city and targeted to minority women.

Based on the most recent census, sex-selection abortion is also taking place in the United States. A March 2008 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that there is "strong son bias" and "clear evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage." A 2006 Zogby International poll shows that 87% of the American public desires a law to ban sex selection abortion.

Upcoming Federalist Society events

The Federalist Society, Phoenix Lawyers Chapter is pleased to bring you three CLE opportunities in April—each of these events may qualify for at least 1 hour of Arizona CLE credit, which will cost you only $5 for materials.

Please join us!

As a courtesy, please RSVP for each of these events to Kasey Higgins (khiggins@ij.org, 480-557-8300), and please indicate whether you will be purchasing CLE materials.

April 2, 2009: “We Can Fight Terrorism Without Sacrificing Civil Liberties”

Who: Bob Barr, 2008 Libertarian Presidential candidate

Location: Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Armstrong Hall room 105 (directions available here)

Time: 12:15-1:15pm

Details: Lunch will be provided for free; $5 for CLE materials

April 10, 2009: Kelo v. New London: Debating the merits of the Supreme Court’s infamous eminent domain decision”

Who: Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Scott Bullock, attorney for Suzette Kelo will discuss the Kelo decision with Phoenix School of Law Professor Steven Gonzales.

Location: Phoenix School of Law (directions available here)

Time: 12-1pm

Details: Lunch will be provided for free; $5 for CLE materials

April 21, 2009: “Who’s Killing the American Dream?”

Who: Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Clark Neily

Location: Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law (room TBD)

Time: TBD – reception followed by debate

Details: Heavy appetizers and drinks will be provided for free; $5 for CLE materials

As a courtesy, please RSVP for each of these events to Kasey Higgins (khiggins@ij.org, 480-557-8300), and please indicate whether you will be purchasing CLE materials.

Sheriff Arpaio investigates Board of Supervisors $340-million court tower project

As reported in the Arizona Republic -

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the County Attorney's Office are investigating the Board of Supervisors and top county administrators as part of a probe into a planned $340-million court tower project. A joint statement from the two offices on Friday is the first public acknowledgement they are conducting an investigation into "funding and contracts" for the tower. The tower has been planned for years, and the supervisors last year decided to move forward with the project.

Read the full article

Phoenix Police credit Arpaio's immigration crackdowns with reducing crime

Left-wing Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini writes in a very fair column that Phoenix Police are grateful for Sheriff Arpaio's illegal immigration crime suppression sweeps, because it's reduced the amount of crime they have to deal with on the streets. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity, due to Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon disagreeing with Arpaio over the crackdown.

Some excerpts -

Or as one of Phoenix officers put it, "The fact is, since our department has allowed officers to partner with ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), our jobs have gotten easier. The streets are a little safer. And we (the officers) are a little safer. And honestly, Arpaio's policy is what helped us to get our new policy."

I contacted Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law EnforcementAssociation, and asked him if other union members are saying the same thing.

"Yes," he said. "I think that the current policy, which allows our guys to communicate with ICE based on reasonable suspicion, has been very helpful. Just as I think that the proactive immigration legislation coming out of the state capitol has been helpful."

"We had the president of the Border Patrol union in here recently," Spencer told me. "He reported to us that apprehensions at the border have gone down 24 percent. Well, we look at that here and we see a correlation. (Mayor) Phil Gordon just said at the State of the City address - and he's correct - that violent crimes in the city of Phoenix have gone down 24 percent. Stolen vehicles in the city of Phoenix have gone down 27 percent. So, we see that as a real common sense connection."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Goldater Institute: How to significantly worsen and lengthen Arizona's recession

Senate Republicans recently announced their intention to balance the state budget without increasing taxes, as suggested by the governor. That will require significant reductions in spending.

want adsASU economist and professor Dennis Hoffman recently argued that reducing state spending by $1 billion would "significantly worsen and lengthen the economic recession." He estimated that 20,000 workers, including 12,000 private employees, would lose their jobs.

But, Dr. Hoffman's analysis looks only at one side of the coin. If legislators don't reduce spending, they'll have to increase taxes to close the gap--and increasing taxes will result in significant job loss.

The Goldwater Institute commissioned the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Massachusetts to model the consequences of a $1 billion tax increase. A $1 billion increase in the sales tax would cause the loss of 13,000 private jobs. Several thousand government jobs would be preserved, but the trade-off is about three private jobs lost for every government job preserved.

When the impact of spending reductions and tax increases are both accounted for, it looks like the surest way to "significantly worsen and lengthen" Arizona's recession is to raise taxes.

CAP: AZ Supreme Court Pulls the Rug Out from Disabled Students

In a very disappointing and heartbreaking ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court this week, parents of 473 students with special needs who were participating in two school choice programs will now be faced with disrupting their children's education. The CAP-supported programs provided parents with the opportunity to choose the public or private school that best suited their children's educational needs. For many students with disabilities, the opportunity to attend specialized private schools has breathed new life into their abilities to learn and function. Now, parents of these students will either have to find a way to pay the tuition for these specialized schools - often costing tens of thousands of dollars - or face returning their children to public schools that have already proved inadequate. This is a very sad ruling for these students, but it is not hopeless. The Court allowed the programs to continue until the end of this school year, and CAP and our school choice allies are considering all of our legal and policy options to help these and other students with special needs. It's not the end of the road for these students or school choice programs in Arizona. Stay tuned!
Condoms at Your Local Junior High?
That's right, the Kyrene School District is considering a sex-education curriculum change that would bring condoms into junior high classrooms. If you live in the Kyrene district and want to join the fight against this irresponsible idea, please email info@azpolicy.org.
End of Life "Choices" and Your Faith

A recently published American Medical Association study shows that a patient's faith significantly affects his or her decisions about life-sustaining medical treatment. The study found that most doctors were not discussing patients' religious beliefs with their patients, even though the patients were basing their decisions very heavily on their faith. The message from the study: speak up to your doctor about your faith and how it influences your medical decisions. Doctors, hospitals, and judges have their own value systems - increasingly based on economic factors related to end of life treatment, but the patient's wishes should be the ultimate basis for medical decisions. That is why we are working at the Arizona Legislature to pass Jesse's Law, Part 2, which helps protect a patient's wishes when he or she cannot communicate.
Help Hurting Women

Due to tough financial situations, there are tragic reports of more women considering abortions. No human life - no matter how small - should be ended solely to ease or avoid financial struggle. Now is the time for us to step up and reach out to those around us who are hurting - especially women facing a crisis pregnancy. Contact your local pregnancy resource center to find out how you can help. For those in the Phoenix area, I hope to see you at the Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Greater Phoenix Gala next Saturday, April 4.

Budget Battles Continue at the Capitol

This week at the Capitol, more questions are being raised about when the Senate will start hearing bills. Work on the budget continues, but no one is certain when it will be finished. CAP is also keeping a close watch on anti-school choice groups that would like to see scholarship tax credits end as part of the budget negotiations. These tax credits are saving the state money, in addition to allowing parents to choose which education is best for their children.

Survey Says ...

The Tohono O'odham Indian tribe released a poll showing supposed public support for its proposed casino in Glendale. Remarkably, the release does not describe the poll's questions or methods, so there is no basis on which to judge the validity of the results. The tribe is attempting to build public support on the false notion that the casino will help the area economy, even though studies have repeatedly shown that the costs of gambling far outweigh the benefits - financially and socially.

Truth Project in Northern Arizona

Register now for Truth Project Training in Prescott and Flagstaff.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Republican Professionals Tea Party Event with Barry Goldwater, Jr.

Republican Professions Arizona Tea Party Event at The W Hotel Featuring Barry Goldwater, Jr.

You're invited to attend the Republican Professionals "Tea Party" Event on Thursday, April 2nd 6:00 PM at The W Hotel in Scottsdale. Tea Party events are occurring across the nation to challenge the stimulus/bailout package Congress passed and President Obama's budget.

Let your voice be heard, bring your friends and join us for this media covered event. Guest speakers include former U.S. Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr. and Tom Jenney, Director of Americans for Prosperity.

The W Hotel is located at 7277 E. Camelback Rd. in Scottsdale (SE Corner of Scottsdale and Camelback). Valet and free parking are available all around the hotel. We have the entire second floor bar reserved and we will have drink specials available during our event.

For more information on The W Hotel please visit www.whotels.com/scottsdale Everyone is welcome to attend!

Please RSVP right away as we anticipate this to be our largest event of the year.The purpose of the Republican Professionals is to link like-minded professionals together in a monthly happy hour where they can network, socialize, and hear directly from prominent politicians and successful business leaders. The Republican Professionals Association was started in Phoenix, Arizona and has already spread to other cities.


For more information, please visit our websitehttp://www.republicanprofessionals.net/

Grand Jury investigation of $340,000,000 Court Tower thwarted

Join statement by Sheriff Arpaio & County Attorney Thomas:

“We are very concerned that the Superior Court, by disregarding the rulings of higher courts, has blocked an important grand-jury investigation of itself and its own employees. This is surely a conflict of interest by the court itself if there ever was one. This ruling has been appealed to the same higher courts that have already upheld such investigations and prosecutions.

Important questions have arisen regarding the funding and contracts for the new $340 million-dollar court tower. This ruling suggests county and court officials believe they don’t have to answer these questions. We believe they should and the public has a right to know.”

Sheriff Arpaio adds, “I want the taxpayers of Maricopa County to know that these unjust actions against the County Attorney will not deter the Sheriff’s Office investigation and we will move forward with a vigorous investigation of the court tower as well as our other corruption cases.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

Franks Calls for Investigation into Planned Parenthood of AZ

Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-02) today responded to two new videos released this week by Lila Rose, a twenty-year old student at UCLA and President of Live Action Films. The video portrays clinic workers at two different Planned Parenthood sites in Arizona assuring two young girls, in flagrant violation of the law, that the organization would not report statutory rape.

“These video clips are the most recent in a series of recorded incidents in which Planned Parenthood clinics have blatantly disregarded the law and failed to protect children by refusing to report potential cases of statutory rape."Franks stated. "It is a travesty that even though Planned Parenthood has been repeatedly shown to conceal the sexual abuse of children, state and federal officials have nevertheless refused to involve themselves in drawing attention to these crimes, seemingly because of their desire to avoid the abortion issue altogether. The likely result has been that an untold number of children who might already have been harmed by sexual abuse are often given back into the hands of their abusers by clinic workers, with no questions asked.

"The ultimate test of any society is how it treats its children. If we fail to protect the most innocent among us, we forfeit the most basic value in Western Civilization. It is imperative that local officials look into these reports and ensure that Planned Parenthood is not allowed to continue hurting children by its deliberate failure to report potential cases of sexual abuse and statutory rape.

"This also demonstrates yet another reason why I support the Title X Abortion Provider Act, which would prohibit federal funds from being used for 'family planning' organizations that perform abortion as a method of family planning. The role of government must always be to protect life, not destroy it, and to that end, it is critical for Planned Parenthood's alleged violations of state and federal law be properly addressed, to ensure that we protect innocent American children."

These are not the first instances in Arizona where Planned Parenthood has failed to report potential sexual abuse. In February,Live Action exposed a similar case in Tucson, Arizona. And in 2002, an Arizona judge found the abortion provider negligent for failing to report the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl by her 23-year-old foster brother.

With over 850 clinics nationwide, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America. Congressman Franks is a sponsor of H.R. 614, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from providing federal funding to family planning organizations that provide abortions.

Congressman Franks is serving his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is a member of the Committee on Armed Services, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, Military Readiness Subcommittee, Committee on the Judiciary, Constitution Subcommittee, and is Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law.

Shadegg to Geithner: Really, Mr. Secretary? Which is it?

Shadegg: “Secretary Geithner continued his bizarre and puzzling conduct this week, making flatly contradictory statements about the dollar in a span of only 24 hours. This weakens confidence not only in him, but in the currency he is entrusted to protect.”

WASHINGTON – Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) issued the following statement after Treasury Secretary Geithner expressed openness on Wednesday to moving away from the dollar as the world’s reserve currency after categorically rejecting the idea on Tuesday in sworn testimony before the House Financial Services Committee:

“Beginning with his tax difficulties, and continuing through the puzzling narrative of when and what he knew about the AIG bonuses, Treasury Secretary Geithner has done little to inspire the confidence of the American people. Oddly, Secretary Geithner continued his bizarre and puzzling conduct this week, making flatly contradictory statements about the dollar in a span of only 24 hours. This weakens confidence not only in him, but in the currency he is entrusted to protect.

“On Tuesday, Secretary Geithner testified before the House Financial Services Committee that he ‘categorically renounces,’ recent proposals from China and others to shift away from the dollar as the world’s reserve currency [see hearing transcript below]. The next morning in New York , speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, he was asked about the same proposals and said he is ‘quite open,’ to them [see press report below].”

“Really, Mr. Secretary? Is it too much to ask that your position remain unchanged over a 24 hour period?


Excerpt from Secretary Geithner’s March 24th testimony before the Financial Services Committee at approximately 11:30am:


Representative Bachmann: We’ve seen both China, Russia, and Kazakhstan, make calls for an international monetary conversion to an international monetary standard as soon as the G20, and I’m wondering would you categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar and going to a global currency as suggested this morning by China and also by Russia, Mr. Secretary?

Secretary Geithner: I would, yes.

As reported in the Washington Times:


“An unguarded comment by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Wednesday set off a sudden drop in the dollar and contributed to a chain of market-rocking events that included a setback in the stock market and a sharp uptick in interest rates.

“Mr. Geithner appeared to lend his support to a proposal by China's central bank governor to replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency with a basket of currencies that would be managed by the International Monetary Fund. In an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Wednesday morning, Mr. Geithner raised eyebrows by saying that we're actually quite open to that’…”