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Arizona leaders to tackle budget at 95th Town Hall at Grand Canyon

More than 100 Arizona leaders will meet in Grand Canyon Village on Nov. 1-4, as part of the 95th Arizona Town Hall meeting, focusing on the fiscal problems of the state.

The meeting, entitled “Riding the Fiscal Roller Coaster: Government Revenue in Arizona,” is hosted by the Arizona Town Hall nonprofit organization, which organizes the event biannually.

The town hall will focus on the budget problems plaguing Arizona governments and propose possible solutions. Speakers will compare Arizona’s challenges to those of other states.

The event includes a luncheon panel Nov. 2, titled, “What Arizona Can Learn from California’s Fiscal Mess.” The panel will be moderated by Jack Cox, president of the Communications Institute in Los Angeles, and will feature Jim Brulte, former Republican California state senator, and Joe Nation, professor of economics at Stanford University and former Democratic California state assemblyman.

“Fundamentally, Arizona has similar problems to California,” said Cox. “The bottom line for all these discussions comes down to economics. What legislators and the public needs to realize is that we all have unlimited wants and likes, but limited resources.”

Cox said the panel would address what led to California’s fiscal failures and increased regulations and taxes, as well as problems that occur when lawmakers look at budget issues in piecemeal fashion, rather than as a whole.

Tara Jackson, president of the Arizona Town Hall, said the organization works hard to arrange a diverse representation from across the state. She said every county has at least one member in attendance, as well as various professionals, civil or state leaders and student delegates from local colleges and universities.

Participants in the town hall are chosen by invitation, but observers can buy tickets for $50 to view mealtime presentations.

“Arizona is in a fiscal situation like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Jackson said.

After days of panel discussions and speakers, the participants will write a recommendation report on what needs to change in Arizona’s revenue structure. The report will be available online the end of November. The report, in combination with a background report from the organization, will be published early 2010.

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