Outside Star Trek’s mythical “dilithium” power crystals, there is no such thing as clean energy. That’s one lesson learned from a new Beacon Hill Institute report, The Economic Impact of Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff. The report illuminates the expense of renewable energy as well.
In 2006, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) passed the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff, requiring 15 percent of Arizona’s electricity to come from renewable sources, including wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal technologies, by 2025.
Beacon Hill estimates that in 2025 the ACC mandate will cost Arizonans between $239 and $626 million and from 1,500 to 4,100 jobs, with electricity prices 4 to 10 percent higher than otherwise. Odds are the economic damage is understated since costs like connecting windmills to the grid can only be guessed. Texas is spending $7 billion to connect its “Cuisinarts of the sky” (windmills kill birds by the bushel) to its grid. Beacon Hill accounts for costs associated with coal and gas backup facilities that prevent brown outs on still and cloudy days.
But there’s more to consider than just costs. Renewable technologies reduce carbon emissions, but the construction and decommissioning of renewable energy facilities produces more carbon than coal and gas facilities. The carbon advantage accrues from the production of electricity.
Recently The Economist, a publication strongly in the global warming corner, acknowledged there has been no warming for more than a decade, contrary to global warming theory. Despite what some may say, there is still a debate about the threat carbon emissions pose.
For the sake of intellectual honesty, jobs, and efficiency the ACC needs to revisit its Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff regulation.
Beacon Hill Institute: The Economic Impact of Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff
RealClearPolitics: The End of an Illusion
MasterResource: Texas Wind Power
The Economist: A Sensitive Matter
Thanks to a Goldwater Institute lawsuit and the courage of a local entrepreneur, the Arizona Board of Cosmetology has gotten a makeover.
The Board went after cancer survivor Lauren Boice’s small business, threatening to shut her down. Lauren started her business, Angels on Earth Home Beauty, after witnessing firsthand how beauty services lifted the spirits of homebound patients. Her unique business connects the elderly, sick, and terminally ill, with licensed cosmetologists who can perform haircuts, manicures, or massages right in clients’ homes. Lauren’s services have been in high demand.
But the Board of Cosmetology had its own demands. It told Lauren it would regulate her phone business as if it were a beauty salon. The Board forced Lauren – who does not practice cosmetology – to get licensed and open a physical salon, even though her homebound clients would never visit it.
The Goldwater Institute took Lauren’s fight to court to defend her constitutional right to earn a living and help her sick clients. After a 16-month legal battle, the Board agreed to a binding settlement, assuring it would never regulate Lauren or other businesses like hers.
This is a great victory for freedom. Thanks to this settlement, entrepreneurs like Lauren Boice can focus on serving their clients rather than navigating the Board’s labyrinth of red tape.
But many still find themselves at the mercy of regulatory boards that stifle innovation, deprive entrepreneurs like Lauren of their right to earn a living, and punish those who provide services to the public.
Lauren spent years battling the cosmetology board in and out of court just to arrive at the common-sense conclusion that a cosmetology board doesn’t have the power to regulate a phone dispatch business. When regulators overstep their boundaries, they stall businesses and waste resources. Perhaps it’s time for the legislature to make over other bureaucracies.
Goldwater Institute Media Advisory: Board of Cosmetology will Cease Regulating Small Businesswoman
Goldwater Institute: Six Reforms to Occupational Licensing Laws to Increase Jobs and Lower Costs
As the battle over Medicaid expansion rages, supporters of expansion have dusted off an age-old favorite in making the case for taking federal dollars - “If our state doesn’t take the money, those dollars will just go to some other state instead.”
Happily, in this instance that is not true. When a state declines to expand Medicaid, no other state will receive its share of funds and federal spending declines. Originally, Washington was expected to spend roughly $950 billion expanding Medicaid between 2014 and 2022. Each state that declines to expand Medicaid relieves strain on the overall federal budget.
State governments generally don’t have much of an impact on the federal budget, but NFIB v. Sebelius gave state lawmakers the unique opportunity to veto hundreds of billions of dollars in new federal spending. Supporters of Medicaid expansion say that one state opting out won’t make a difference—that the amount of money is a mere drop in the bucket. But states joining together to say no to Medicaid expansion will make a significant impact.
The federal tab for Medicaid expansion has been reduced by more than $424 billion over the next eight years thanks to the 18 states that have already opted out. If the 12 still-undecided states also opt out, there will be an additional $185 billion in savings.
The more than $609 billion in savings from these 30 states would represent over 50% of the expected federal spending on the expansion. A drop in the bucket? That’s more than seven times the $85 billion in 2013 sequester cuts and more than half the federal deficit for this year.
In addition to protecting the federal budget, states that decline to expand Medicaid will protect their own budgets as well. Arizona has experience with Medicaid expansion. In 2005 alone, Arizona’s Prop 204 expansion was projected to cost $315 million, but the actual cost that year was over $1.3 billion. The year 2005 wasn’t an anomaly. Arizona’s cost projections for the last expansion were off by over 400% each year. It is likely that the expansion proposed under Obamacare will have similar results.
State lawmakers fed up with federal spending finally have a chance to do something about it; they just have to make the hard decisions that will be required to balance the books.
Christina Corieri is a health care policy analyst at the Goldwater Institute. A longer version of this article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
Wall Street Journal: States Can Impose Fiscal Discipline on Washington
Kaiser Family Foundation: The Cost and Coverage Implications of the ACA Medicaid Expansion: National and State-by-State Analysis
Goldwater Institute: 10 Reasons To Decline Medicaid Expansion in Arizona
Heritage Foundation: 10 Myths About The Obamacare Medicaid Expansion
This is a big week for Arizona families. First, children in failing schools and children with special needs, along with children from active-duty military families and adopted children have until Wednesday to apply for an education savings account. These accounts, only available in Arizona, have helped more than 300 children in the past two years find better education options than what their zip code assigned them to, including tutoring services, online classes, and private schools.
Jeff and Rebecca Locke’s daughter, Kasey, is using an account for speech therapy services at a school that specializes in helping children diagnosed with autism. “It’s opened a lot of doors,” Jeff says. “It’s been a huge success for us.”
Before using an account, Kasey struggled with anxiety issues and following directions, but now Jeff says she is excited to get in the car and go to school every day.
A second reason families should be excited this week is because lawmakers still have time to consider SB 1363. This bill would allow children entering kindergarten and assigned to a failing school to apply for an education savings account immediately, instead of having to attend the failing school for one year before applying. Children assigned to a “D” or “F” school would get the chance at a great education right away.
The bill would also increase the amount of each savings account, while still saving taxpayers money over traditional schools. The accounts only use 90 percent of a child’s portion of the school funding formula, allowing the state to save money with each account.
Education savings accounts are distinctly different from school vouchers. Vouchers allow families to choose a private school for their child, but educations savings accounts can be used for college expenses, therapy services, textbooks, and a variety of other education expenses.
These accounts are the most innovative, flexible education solution in the U.S. Just ask Jeff and Rebecca, who say that when education savings accounts came along, “It was almost too good to be true. So far, it’s just been great.”
Goldwater Institute: Education Savings Accounts: Questions and Answers
Goldwater Institute: A Path to Give All Children an Effective Education and Prepare Them for Life
Arizona Department of Education: Empowerment Scholarship Accounts
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