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  • Out of Sight: How Special Taxing Districts Circumvent Spending Limits and Decrease Accountability in Government

    Posted on January 09, 2014 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Stephen Slivinski

    Special taxing districts are all the rage. They are now the fastest growing form of government, even though they often operate out of sight and out of mind for most voters and taxpayers. These often unnoticed local governments have the power to tax and spend like municipalities and are set up to provide a specific service. They have contributed heavily to the overall growth of local government spending and debt loads, all while operating virtually behind the scenes and at a lower standard of accountability than traditional local governments. Many taxpayers don’t even realize they are paying taxes to these government-like entities. The number of special districts has grown rapidly because special districts are not subject to many of the spending and debt limits municipal governments face. This has encouraged local governments to circumvent those limits by creating more special districts. Statistical analysis of states and cities across the nation shows that the share of local spending attributable to special districts correlates strongly with more overall per capita local government spending.

  • Dollars, Flexibility, and an Effective Education: Parent Voices on Arizona’s Education Savings Accounts

    Posted on October 03, 2013 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Jonathan Butcher

    Arizona’s education savings accounts are the most innovative way for parents to find a great education for their child. The Arizona Department of Education deposits 90 percent of an eligible child’s funding from the state funding formula into a parent’s private bank account. Families then use a debit card or an online payment service such as PayPal to pay for such expenses as textbooks, private school tuition, online classes, and tutors. Each account results in a cost-savings to the taxpayer, demonstrating that a high-quality education can be provided for less than what taxpayers pay for public schools.

  • Moving Forward: A Road Map for Choice and Competition

    Posted on July 15, 2013 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Andrew N. Kleit

    Choice and competition can drive Arizona’s electricity market to produce more power at a lower cost—with greater economic efficiency propelling greater economic growth and job creation. This article provides a road map with specific recommendations tailored to Arizona's unique market conditions to ensure reform is a success.

  • Arizona Charter Schools: A Vision for the Next 20 Years

    Posted on May 22, 2013 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Jonathan Butcher

    Over the past 20 years, Arizona teachers, parents, and community leaders have created more than 500 charter schools—independent, tuition-free public schools that operate with fewer regulations in exchange for higher levels of transparency. Some of these schools are among the highest-achieving schools in the nation, with their students routinely topping nationwide comparisons.

  • States Can Fix the National Debt: Reforming Washington with the Compact for America Balanced Budget Amendment

    Posted on April 23, 2013 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Nick Dranias

    The Compact for America proposes that state legislatures use an interstate compact, which is a cooperative agreement among the states, to advance a Balanced Budget Amendment. 26 state legislatures would be required to cosign on the federal government’s credit card. But unlike the status quo of national debt brinkmanship, the BBA is designed to force Washington to prepare a budget to make the case for more debt long before the midnight hour arrives. It requires the president to start designating spending cuts when spending exceeds 98 percent of the debt limit. If Congress disagrees with the cuts, it must then override those cuts within 30 days. By forcing both the executive and legislative branches to show their cards long in advance of hitting a constitutional debt limit, the BBA would ensure no game of “chicken” can hold the country’s credit rating hostage.

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