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Nightmare scenarios haunt states

One question keeps coming up as governors and legislators grapple with a seemingly never-ending stream of gloomy budget news that keeps getting worse: How bad can it get? The answer, according to experts and a look through history, is probably that it could get worse than it has been in a generation - maybe even a lifetime - but not catastrophic.

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Popular eatery for political power brokers celebrates 80 years (access required)

In 1993, a handful of notable politicians gathered in the backroom of a small diner in downtown Phoenix to hammer out a deal that would allow Native American tribes to operate casinos on their land in Arizona. The politicians at the table included state Attorney General Grant Woods, Gov. Fife Symington and U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

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Lottery big part of state’s financial plans, but first voters must vote to keep it

While other contributors to state revenues have dropped off severely of late, the Arizona Lottery has been a growing source of tens of millions of dollars per year since its inception in 1980. The lottery funds a variety of voter-approved state programs in areas such as education, health and transportation and has contributed $2.3 billion in all to its beneficiaries.

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Goddard sues over fake businesses

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard says he's suing three men for advertising at least 47 fictitious businesses in the Tucson Yellow Pages. David Sasson and David Peer, both of Clearwater, Fla., and Gilad Gill of the Bronx, N.Y., are accused of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.

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Highway money on states’ radar

States are hoping that a job-creating initiative to be outlined by President Obama on Dec. 8 will include billions of dollars for infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, recession-worn Michigan may be ineligible for $475 million in federal highway money next year because it can't find $84 million in matching state funds.

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Stricter regs needed for medical pot

Supporters of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in Arizona have taken steps to avoid some of the problems that have riddled California since voters there passed Proposition 215 in 1996. Californians approved a seven-paragraph initiative that protects physicians, caregivers and medical marijuana patients from prosecution. But it led to a massive outgrowth of doctors who prescribe the drug for just about any malady.

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After furloughs, states mull permanent cuts

Moving from furloughs of state employees to more permanent downsizing, states are girding for the deepest workforce cuts yet when they hammer out their fiscal 2011 budgets next year. In preparation, many are taking stock of every position in state government to determine what effect job cuts and the possible elimination of whole departments will have on revenues, expenses and the quality of government services.

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