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Special Investigations

  • Arizona Commerce Cronies: Picking and Choosing Winners With Your Tax Dollars

    Posted on March 20, 2014 | Type: Investigative Report | Author: Emily Gersema

    Most government departments and agencies have a governing board, council or commission that discusses and makes major spending decisions in public meetings. However, the state laws that govern the ACA allow the board of directors, its committees, subcommittees and advisory councils to discuss business opportunities in executive session. The chief executive officer, who does not have to hold public meetings to discuss or vote on which businesses the agency will aid, has unilateral authority to award subsidies.

  • Gaming the System: Districts Make a Dash for Cash in Charter Schools

    Posted on December 12, 2013 | Type: Investigative Report | Author: Emily Gersema

    Legislators and charter school advocates worry the sudden rise in district-run charters is a money grab by the traditional public districts. Several of the districts are increasing their budgets with “additional assistance” funds for charter schools without fulfilling the state’s primary purpose for charter schools – to increase educational options for students. Public districts receive on average $8,992 per student from the state, which is $1,532 more per student than typical charter schools, according to a comparison the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee released in September. This is largely because public districts receive state funding for transportation and capital funds, while charter schools do not.

  • Welcome to the Real World

    Posted on September 27, 2012 | Type: Investigative Report | Author: Christian Palmer

    For decades, the ASA's traditional role has been to serve as an advocacy group for Arizona's public university students. But in 2012, the student funded 501(c)(4) applied its money and manpower to assist a constituency that even universities are prohibited from helping: A political committee formed to launch a statewide ballot initiative.

  • Risky Business: Understanding the Business Side of Government Bonds

    Posted on July 17, 2012 | Type: Investigative Report | Author: Mark Flatten

    Three law firms dominate the legal work that goes into issuing state and local government debt in Arizona, according to a review of bond documents done by the Goldwater Institute. That finding is consistent with what bond lawyers and government officials have said in interviews about the industry.

  • Debt and Taxes: Arizona Taxpayers on Hook for $66 Billion Tab Run Up by State, Local Governments

    Posted on April 05, 2012 | Type: Investigative Report | Author: Mark Flatten

    State and local governments in Arizona owe more than $66.5 billion in outstanding debt and unfunded obligations, according to official estimates in disclosure reports scattered across various agencies. That figure is based largely on annual reports from government agencies and pension funds that run through June 2011. Numbers that have been updated since have only gotten worse.

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