by Nick Dranias
At least one Arizona city understands that the key to economic growth is more freedom and lower costs levied on businesses.
The City of El Mirage recently announced that it was abandoning “impact fees” – regulatory hurdles that hold a developer’s property rights hostage. The fees are supposed to cover the cost of the impact that new development has on city infrastructure. But in reality, they’re a surtax on economic growth that is often used to fund unnecessary luxuries like public art and theaters.
El Mirage has set a great example, but one isolated reform won’t prevent El Mirage or any other city in the U.S. from slipping back into bad habits once the good times return. Local governments still need a long-term plan for embracing freedom and prosperity-friendly policies in good times and bad.
Fortunately, a new bill sponsored by Senator Lori Klein promises to fulfill that need in Arizona.
Based on the Goldwater Institute’s research in A New Charter for America’s Cities, Senator Klein is sponsoring SB1064, which would give cities the power to adopt a “Local Liberty Charter.” Any city adopting the charter would embrace a 20-year plan for economic growth based on individual freedom and responsibility, including a prohibition on subsidies to private businesses, an end to excessive regulations, competitive contracting of services other than public safety, and the limitation of local spending to population and inflation growth.
Even if only a handful of cities adopted the charters, the contrast between them and others would eventually produce a stark difference in prosperity. Moreover, the inevitable success of what Senator Barry Goldwater called “freedom’s model” would be a crucial force in persuading cities to choose freedom.
Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.
Arizona Republic: El Mirage showing that it's 'pro-growth'
Arizona State Senate: Senate Bill 1064
Goldwater Institute: A New Charter for American Cities