Tag Archives: Economic development

Rio Nuevo Extension to 2035 Moves through #AZLeg

AC Marriott in Tucson

The new AC Marriott in downtown Tucson was built with a Rio Nuevo sales tax deal.

Backers of the Rio Nuevo Tax Increment Financing District have been intensely lobbying the Arizona Legislature for months in hopes of extending the life of Rio Nuevo beyond its current end date of 2025.

Reps. Mark Finchem and Todd Clodfelter have proposed HB2456 which would extend Rio Nuevo to 2035. In its current form, Rio Nuevo and development in the downtown district are controlled by the Arizona Legislature. The Rio Nuevo Board is appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and all Rio Nuevo deals are approved by those three.

What’s wrong with this picture? The people of Tucson created Rio Nuevo with our vote back in 1999, but under the control of the Legislature, the people have no voice in Rio Nuevo and no say in what is built in our city’s core. That’s a problem. Our town does not belong to the Arizona Legislature. Where is our local control?

Last week the Arizona Daily Star published my guest commentary on Rio Nuevo: Is It Time for the Sun to Set on Rio Nuevo? The article gives some historical background on Rio Nuevo and raises questions about the financing behind the deals. At the end are some suggestions.

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Legislative Whirlwind Begins: Tours & Meetings, Oh, My! (Part 1)

Arizona House

Newly elected members of the Arizona House, Dec. 2016.

Since Dec. 1, newly elected members of the Arizona House have received a whirlwind of invitations for meetings, trainings, luncheons, dinners, tours, coffees, workshops, receptions, BBQs, caucus meetings, briefings, orientations– and more. For half of December, I was out of Tucson — with multiple trips to Phoenix and a field trip to Yuma. On the street, supporters ask me when I start working. Even though the inauguration isn’t until next week, I have been working for weeks as your “representative-elect”.

Instead of publishing a lengthy article on “how I spent my Christmas vacation”, I’m breaking up my December tales into five parts: meetings (not as boring as it sounds), the ADEQ field trip to a defunct gas station, and three segments about the Yuma agricultural tour (92,000 cows, lettuce and birds, and migrant farm workers).

Here is the first installment in the five-part series.

New House Member Orientation

Most of the 23 new Republican and Democratic members of the Arizona House attended an orientation at the Capitol in the beginning of December. We comprise one of the largest (if not the largest) Freshmen classes, since several of us beat incumbents. (Maybe… just maybe… we could break the gridlock mold because we are such a big group.)

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Sustainable Econ Dev: $70 Mil for 2 Corps or $1 Mil Each for 70 Local Businesses? (video)

World View

Contractors have begun blading the desert at the World View site.

In the name of economic development, Rio Nuevo and Pima County are poised to dole out $70 million in corporate welfare to two big corporations– $50 million to Caterpillar and $20 million to World View.

Ironically, one day before the Rio Nuevo Board announced the multi-million-dollar Caterpillar package for Tucson, I posted this article on saying “no” to Wall Street debt and corporate welfare and “yes” to helping local small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive with low-cost loans.

Let’s think about this a moment. These two governmental entities are have voted to invest $70 million worth of taxpayer funds in two companies– one company is being lured away from other states to move here and the other is a Tucson company with big ideas and little cash. Is borrowing millions of dollars to give it away sustainable economic development?

According to data from the University of Arizona Eller College, Tucson has one of the highest per capita rates of new patents in the US. We also have new start-up tech companies being nurtured at the UA Tech Park. We have smart scientists + new ideas. Why aren’t we helping entrepreneurs and growing our own local businesses with low-cost loans via a public bank?

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