Arizona sold off $735 million worth of state property in 2009.
State governments have taken a number of different steps to balance their books in recent years. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (remember him?) proposed a new tax on strip clubs, for example, and a Utah state rep. suggested saving $60 million per year by abolishing the 12th grade. But no proposal struck as much metaphorical gold as Arizona's decision to sell off the state capitol (and a whole bunch of other state properties, such as maximum security prisons) for $735 million in 2009. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed off on the deal, and the state now leases the House and Senate chambers from a private real estate company at a considerable long-term cost.
But now, presumably still a little embarrassed by the whole episode, presented with the unfamiliar feeling of cash on hand, and rapidly approaching the state's 100th birthday, Brewer wants the Arizona capitol back in the hands of Arizonans. Here's the Yuma Sun:
The move will cost the state $105 million out of its current budget surplus. Brewer press aide Matthew Benson said the state has the cash.
Benson acknowledged the state actually got only $81 million for the state House, the Senate and the nine-story executive tower that includes Brewer's office when it negotiated a "sale-leaseback" arrangement in 2010...
"Most of our Capitol complex, including the building we gather in today, is not ours,'' Brewer said in her State of the State speech delivered in the House building. "So ... to make all of our Capitol truly ours once again, I'm asking that you send me a bill by Statehood Day that allows me to buy back the Capitol.''
Arizona's decision to sell off its state capitol to a private real estate company was perhaps the greatest drunken eBay transaction of all time, except in this case there was no booze involved, and the whole arrangement was justified on the grounds of austerity and small government. That said, buying back the capitol isn't a terrible idea.
Variations on a theme: Grant Wood's American Gothic (left), and the label for New Hampshire-based Smuttynose IPA
New Hampshire voters are different than you. So we've been told, anyway. "New Hampshire voters are no pushovers," writes the Los Angeles Times, informing us the the residents of the Granite State are, variously, "cranky," "obdurate," and "independent." They're also "Yankee stoics," "no-nonsense," and "rock-ribbed," adds McClatchy's David Lightman. Conservative talk radio host Mark Steyn calls New Hampshirites "crusty," "cranky," and "contrarian." Hardball host Chris Matthews attempted to sum up the state's electorate as "real," "American," and "flinty." "We take the vetting of the candidates very seriously," says Republican Kelly Ayotte, the state's junior senator.
New Hampshire voters are many things (or at least many different varieties of rock), but one thing they are absolutley not is Iowan. That's the message that's seeped out over the last 12 months or so from politicians, editorial boards, and even a few candidates. "They pick corn in Iowa; they pick presidents in New Hampshire," said Jon Huntsman, who's banking his presidential fortunes on the relative cranky flintiness of Granite State residents. MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell best captured the conventional wisdom, explaining that, contra New Hampshire, Iowa is "too white, too evangelical, too rural" to make much of a difference on the GOP nominating race. (New Hampshire is 93.9 percent white; Iowa is 91 percent).
But are they really so different? My colleague Andy Kroll busted the myth of New Hampshire maverick voter on Friday. And a quick comparison of the two states' legislative activity over the last three years reveals some serious overlap. Is Iowa the crazy one? Or was it New Hampshire? Match the nutty proposal with the appropriate state:
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich points at something.
As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.
This quote, from Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, is about as spirited defense of big government you'll ever see, outlining the foundational—and irreplacable—role played by public institutions in creating a prosperous society:
The era of Republican domination back between 1856 and 1932 was a period of tremendous government experimenting, a period of building the transcontinental railroad...a period of encouraging homesteading through the Homestead Act, a eriod of the agricultural college and the Morill Act which led to the land grant colleges and the agricultural agent system.
The test I always give conservatives is to say "How many of you wanted to save the Panama Canal?" Most of my conservative friends promptly raise their hands. But the fact of the matter is that the Panama Canal was built by government engineers, because government doctors cured yellow fevers. It was run by a government corporation and it was constructed by government Army and Navy, the largest public works project in history at the time was it was set up.
Newt Gingrich campaigns in Manchester, New Hampshire in January.
As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out. And today, in honor of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, you get a bonus Daily Newt!
For the last week, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has been hammering Gingrich for his record during the Vietnam war, when the former speaker, then a graduate student at Tulane, avoided service through a series of deferments. Gingrich, Paul asserted, was a "Chicken-hawk"—someone too cowardly to go to war himself but more than willing to send others into battle. At Saturday's debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, Paul doubled down: "I'm trying to stop the wars, but at least, you know, I went when they called me up."
If there's ambiguity about Gingrich's record, it's because of his own statements. On Saturday, Gingrich claimed that he wasn't eligible for the draft: "The fact is, I never asked for deferment," he said, in a visibly irate response to Paul. "I was married with a child. It was never a question. My father was, in fact, serving in Vietnam in the Mekong Delta at the time he's referring to. I think I have a pretty good idea of what it's like as a family to worry about your father getting killed. And I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with."