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Arizona Considers Selling Capitol Buildings 301

Posted by samzenpus
from the everything-must-go dept.
Things are so bad in Arizona that legislators are considering selling the House and Senate buildings where they've met and worked for more than 50 years. Dozens of other state properties may also be sold. The plan is to sell the properties and then lease them back over several years before assuming ownership again. "We've mortgaged the legislative halls," said an exasperated state Rep. Steve Yarbrough, a Chandler Republican. "That just tells you how extraordinary the times are. To me, it's something we're going to have to do no matter how much we find it undesirable." I bet they could get a great price on the Grand Canyon.

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Arizona Considers Selling Capitol Buildings

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  • by Uberbah (647458) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:03PM (#28887111)

    Low taxes can have high costs.

  • by diskofish (1037768) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:17PM (#28887331)
    This is the worst I've heard of yet. How about they try to fix the problem instead of a temporary fix? That and I don't see how this is actually going to save any money. They'll incur the cost of moving everything to a new location, rents at the new location...etc etc etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:19PM (#28887369)

    What the...?
    Parent has a point. This would not have happened if the government was allowed the necessary finances it needed from the people.

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:19PM (#28887373)
    On a per capita basis, Arizona is worse off than California. The cause is due to a confluence of factors, including not saving enough for the bad times, taxes being too low or spending being too high, having such a growth oriented economy, etc.

    But there are two items which I am CONVINCED are major factors as well.
    1) Term limits: They suck. I used to support them, but I was wrong. Term limits result in a legislature that doesn't know WTF it's doing at any time. There is no institutional memory, and once someone understands the complex process of creating and passing legislation - they get the boot. Additionally, because no one exactly knows their jobs, term limits result in a weak branch of government, so the executive tends to dominate. This is not what our respective state constitutions intended. I wish people would put two and two together on this.

    2) Illegal alien "crackdown" and employer sanctions: AZ is suffering a major real estate crisis. The crisis is for reasons obvious to anyone, but a contributing factor for our crappy economy and crappy real estate was the crack down on illegal aliens. Folks don't realize that these people rent and spend here too (often times without the societal expense us "real people" tend to cause society). When you have sweeps, a lack of employment and a general sense of animosity towards those who (in my view) are major contributors to society, they move one state over (they're not moving back to Mexico). I wish people would understand this point too.

    Certainly, the overall economic factors play a very large role, but AZ has gotten itself in a big mess all by itself...
  • by wjousts (1529427) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:25PM (#28887481)
    Don't be silly. Why would patriots think their country is worth paying for?
  • You're stupid! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:27PM (#28887539) Journal

    Tax and spend liberals (both R and D) has even higher costs.

    Here's a novel concept .... LIMIT GOVERNMENT SPENDING.

    Lets start cutting all the crap out of budgets, removing social programs that don't work, and get back to basics. How about stop stupid feel good programs that do nothing but create stupid rules that cost nothing but money on things that don't work.

    Yeah, times are tough. TOUGH SHIT. We can't afford all the pretty shiny programs when life was easier. Time is now to TIGHTEN our belts and get rid of cruft.

    Yeah, some people might get hurt in the process, but if we continue going like we currently are, we are hurting future generations. People are already getting hurt, we shouldn't be passing that crap on to our children.

    I know, bleeding heart liberals will go ape shit over this, but I don't freakin care. Because they are selfish twits who are only thinking about the here and now, and don't give a shit about the future generations.

    Selling buildings and leasing them back is NOT productive in the long run, and is VERY short sighted. It is sacrificing the future instead of dealing with the core problems NOW.

    CUT SPENDING, don't increase future spending to pay for today's spending.

    What I would like is a automatic revocation of politicians who can't pass a balanced budget on time. You can't do that, you're fired and can never run for any office anywhere ever again. Throw them all out!

    Maybe then we'll get someone besides a career politician into office who can do what is needed, even when unpopular.

  • by wjousts (1529427) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:31PM (#28887639)

    1) Term limits: They suck. I used to support them, but I was wrong. Term limits result in a legislature that doesn't know WTF it's doing at any time. There is no institutional memory, and once someone understands the complex process of creating and passing legislation - they get the boot. Additionally, because no one exactly knows their jobs, term limits result in a weak branch of government, so the executive tends to dominate. This is not what our respective state constitutions intended. I wish people would put two and two together on this.

    Not only that, but they pretty much guarantee that whoever is in government now, is planning for their career after government. They really have no choice with term limits.

  • by abigor (540274) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:31PM (#28887645)

    So I take it you've analysed Arizona's budget and know for a fact that excessive government spending is a problem? I'd be interested in hearing your analysis of precisely what should be cut.

  • Don't think so... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:35PM (#28887719) Homepage Journal

    You don't live in Arizona do you? They've already cut everything they can.

    I doubt this. Have a look at Wikipedia

    http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Arizona_state_budget [sunshinereview.org]

    In 2009 the State Budget is $55 billion dollars. In 2000, the State Budget was less than half of that. Did our wages double from 2000 to 2009? If not, then why the hell did spending? Every state that is in red ink could easily avert its fiscal crisis if all it did was revert to a 2004 budget... We're not even talking 4 years ago...

    There's constitutional restrictions on what they can touch (direct voter mandates cannot be cut)

    This is an excuse. There is just a lack of political will to really make hard choices.

    Change the State Constitution.

  • by Volda (1113105) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:43PM (#28887833)
    Im confused here... If they sell the buildings then lease them from the new owners do they not have to pay rent? Then in a few years when the economy is better wont they have to buy it back for more then they sold it for? Real estate generally increases in value not decreases. It would make the whole deal a loss for the state then wouldnt it? I see no way that this would help out with their yearly budget except for the year they sell it. After that its only going to be a net loss.

    It seems to me this sounds like a bs accounting scheme. Kinda similiar how a few states say its cheaper to keep a murderer in prison for life then it is to execute him within a few years. Its looks great in the short term but in the long run it costs much more.

    It just sounds really stupid to me. I can understand trying to get some money to make ends meet but this whole deal makes me scratch my head.
  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @03:45PM (#28887877)
    Patriots love their country. Those corrupted by power and lucre love government.
  • by Vancorps (746090) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:12PM (#28888317)

    Fixed red light cameras should be cut. They consistently are money losers here in AZ which is why they get installed and last about year before being taken down. All that trenching for nothing. Then of course they can't even send the tickets to the right court which was great when I got a ticket since the judge threw it out for going to the wrong court.

    Beyond that there really isn't a lot of spending as far as I can tell. I could be wrong though. The issue appears to be a simple need to increase taxes and a reactive populous that isn't willing to cooperate.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:12PM (#28888323)
    Canada is weathering the downturn much better because they have a better regulation [brookings.edu] of the financial sector, thus the wheelers and dealers there were not allowed to over-leverage to ridiculous proportions in a drunken fit of greed.
  • by MillenneumMan (932804) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:35PM (#28888711)
    You raise some interesting points. I have a friendly disagreement with you on these to some extent...regarding term limits, if it takes more than two terms for a representative to thoroughly understand how to contribute to running a state government then perhaps the state government is already too complex, or there is no incentive to make state programs efficient. I imagine it is even worse in that both of these cases are true. With regards to illegal alien crackdown, let me first commend you for using the phrase "illegal alien" instead of "undocumented worker" or some other euphamism. Arizona has a particularly tough challenge in this regard due to its proximity to a national border. I admire Arizona's efforts to do something, and better options may result from studying the unintended consequences of the crackdown. However, I think going back to the way things were (I think you are suggesting that we essentially not enforce some or most illegal alien legislation) prior to the current crackdown is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I believe most people hold few grudges against legal immigrants and reserve their wrath for illegal immigration and the perception that many of our elected officials and peacekeepers deliberately ignore enforcement of the law. Our prisons are full of a disproportionate number of illegal aliens, and prison costs are substantial. Our hospital emergency rooms are full of a disproportionate number of illegal aliens, and hospital costs are substantial. Those costs are borne by us honest folk, and it is very easy to resent having those costs dilute state budgets, money that already is poorly managed by our elected officials.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:45PM (#28888871)

    The state doubled its budget in 9 years... why?

    Arizona's population went up by about 27% in that timeframe, and inflation increased by about 25%. That brings us to 158% of 2000 without any changes in gov't spending relative to income.

    So in constant dollars per person, their spending only went up 25%. That's not out of line with other governments.

    Why does government spending always seem to go up in general? Mostly because increasing technology levels. This has many effects which I won't go into here, but one big one is people live longer. (And Arizona is full of old people living longer.)

    At any rate, the governments' fraction of the total economies have been going up for centuries, and will continue to go up no matter how bitter that makes you. Individuals' absolute wealth has continued to increase regardless of the smaller fraction of overall activity they retain. That's the way it is; we don't live in an agrarian society any more. Deal with it.

  • Re:Wait, what--? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Matheus (586080) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:54PM (#28888995) Homepage

    What happens if whomever they sell the buildings to decides not to lease back? Or better yet evicts them for failing to pay rent?

    I think a capital rotunda would make a fantastic music venue... how much are they asking? :)

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @04:56PM (#28889025)

    The state needs to spend in order to keep up with population growth. It doesn't matter what the GDP is doing, the people require a certain amount of money. The alternative is to live with a lower quality of life, but we chose to have a larger budget instead.

    But it's not always easy being big - and getting bigger at a rapid clip - in the middle of a desert. The growth that Arizona - and greater Phoenix, in particular - are experiencing has placed a great strain on the use of public land, roadways, and precious natural resources - especially water.

    We live in a desert man, where do you think we get our water from? Do you think it's cheap? What about the people coming across the border and using emergency services, law enforcement, power, water, etc? Where are their taxes? Why am I paying for them? Maybe if they were paying their share we would have a larger GDP and you wouldn't be complaining that spending is outpacing the GDP.

    There are a *lot* of issues in this state which require a lot of money. If you don't want spending to outpace the GDP, then be prepared to accept a lower quality of life as the population continues to rise.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:10PM (#28889207)

    The basics are part of what is killing our budget. We are paying expenses for education, health care, public safety etc to cover a segment of the population that doesn't pay any taxes at all because they aren't supposed to be here in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:13PM (#28889269)

    I think you're confusing cause and effect. Yes, the crackdown has reduced the number of illegals but the primary cause is that much of Arizona's
    economy was the construction of new homes for expat Californians and/or speculative landlords. Once the construction market collapsed, it cratered
    home prices (I don't remember the source, but I believe it was the local NPR station, said that home values would be heading back to their 1995 values)
    which in turn cratered the tax base. Arizona's social safety net is not particularly robust (unemployment is $205/week max and you're only eligible for ~ 6 weeks or
    so).

    The AZ Republic highlighted the plight of the families of illegals back in Mexico. It's not that they don't have jobs in AZ, they don't have jobs period
    and their families are cutting waaaaaay back on expenditures.

  • But just keep spouting the only idea you republicans have left...

    And your idea is, what, just raise the rates on people. Face it, this is entirely a manufactured crisis. All you have are excuses... do you mean to tell me that Arizona is spending 27 billion a year more on roads in 2008 than it was in 2000? Come on, that's just not the case. It's 8 years of passing benefits and programs the state cannot afford.

  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:17PM (#28889329) Journal

    Taxes are the price of civilization.

    Only when they are spent on maintaining civilization. Hoping that higher taxes will take care of all that is broken is like hoping that eating will cure every disease that one has.

  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:47PM (#28889745)

    First, it always is spending that is too high.

    Which naturally leads to tax cuts to "starve the beast".

    Budget deficit? Tax cuts.
    Budget surplus? Tax cuts.
    War too expensive? Tax cuts.
    Poverty? Tax cuts.
    Worsening education? Tax cuts.
    Rising crime? Tax cuts.
    Declining crime? Tax cuts.
    Pollution? Tax cuts.

    Sorry, but I prefer to live in a state with a functioning government that can actually provide for its citizens. Take a hike and go live in Somalia if you're so opposed to civilization.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:54PM (#28889807)

    I just moved from AZ a month ago. Trust me the housing glut has nothing to do with illegal immigration. There aren't thousands of cheap houses sitting empty they are mostly nicer houses that illegals couldn't aford. The excess is from over building by speculators. It hits people trying to sell their houses hardest because new houses are easier to sell than even fairly new houses. If they plant too much corn and there's a glut it's not because there's too few people it's because they planted too much. Illegals aren't the backbone of the economy the middle class are as they always have been since WWII. We need a stronger middle class not more cheap labor. Cheap labor harms the middle class which does hurt the economy.

  • by A_linux_covert (615046) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:54PM (#28889813)
    Then riddle me this, from the New Deal until Reagan and the tax cutters at all costs, we were the envy of most of the world. I know you are going to hit back with the stagflation of the '70's, but that was more a product of the oil shock and paying for Vietnam. Until Reagan screwed up CA's higher ed, college was free and most of the country was headed down the same road. I live in CA, what we are experiencing now is a direct result of prop 13. If it were repealed tomorrow, a year from now we would be ok, not great but ok. The other half of the equation is the insane trade policies we(the upper class) have forced upon most of the world that is eating we (the middle and lower classes) alive. A protectionist trade policy was put into place by Hamilton and it worked for over 200 years. A progressive tax system forces a more egalitarian society to arise. It also tends to encourage reinvestment in the company, rather than exorbitant CEO salaries. Why pay someone $50 million when 49 of it is going to be taxed at %90, better to put it back into the company. Everything the Right wing GOP has done to this country has been nothing but deleterious to it. I arrive at this conclusion by simply looking at history. I remember when this country was full of hope and a chance to have a better life than your forebears. Now I fear for my grandchildren, at best they will be wage slaves to some faceless corporation.
  • by religious freak (1005821) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:04PM (#28889933)
    Who says they don't pay income tax? Not only DO they pay income taxes in many cases, they also pay social security without any benefits when they hit 67. No, not all illegals pay income tax, but those working for even somewhat small medium sized firms still need to fake a SSN to get a job. What do you think the vast majority are doing with those fake/stolen SSNs?
  • by jwhitener (198343) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @06:44PM (#28890415)

    "Term limits result in a legislature that doesn't know WTF it's doing at any time. "

    How often is the turnover in AZ? Oregon and Washington had senators/congressmen that were basically lifers in DC.

    If the people like you, you stay in. Term limits are in place to allow the people to vote out crappy legislators on a regular basis, and to hopefully provide a steady stream of new ideas.

    Congressmen/Senators do not need to know how to write law. The need to know how to express the needs and views of their constituents, and then have their offices filled with highly qualified lawyers draft up legislation.

  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @08:32PM (#28891367) Journal
    I do hope you are kidding. Your argument for greater government control is that during the times of absolute government control life was worse?
  • In the last 8 years, Arizona has had a Republican majority in their government

    The moral of the story is that the "moral majority" is just as bad at spending as the Democrats are.

    If they keep decimating school spending, no companies will want to relocate here, and their tax base (and draw for producing citizens, not retiree's and snowbirds) will continue to shrink.

    What amazes me the most about Arizona is that the state is sitting on top of some pretty good sized mineral deposits - gold, silver, copper... I would be hawking off mining rights. You have Resolution Copper held up in permitting, and I'd think taxes from that alone would help considerably.

  • by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:42AM (#28893009)

    So population and inflationary costs would be in line with a 158% increase, but instead the budget increased 200%, give-or-take.

    However, assuming that government is a service (something I don't assume, but most people do), the cost of providing that service should go *down* with respect to what they provide, and having a larger population should provide better economies of scale, making their services *cheaper* per person.

    So the government is doing the opposite of what private services do. Getting more expensive with time rather then less, and getting more expensive the more its "customer base" grows.

    "Increasing technology levels"? Technology improves efficiency and lowers cost, not the other way around. In addition, I don't think individuals' absolute wealth is really increasing any more. Any increases we should be seeing are offset by the geometrically increasing amounts of our wealth that are siphoned off by the government (especially at the federal level) to pay for wars and bank bailouts.

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