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Brewer appoints Colangelo, other business leaders to new council

Gov. Jan Brewer has appointed a new council focused on spurring economic development and growth in Arizona. The Governor's Commerce Advisory Council, comprised of business leaders across the state including former Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamonbacks owner Jerry Colangelo and Pinnacle West/APS CEO Don Brandt, is scheduled to present its findings and proposed plan during the first quarter of 2010.

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Govs ready speeches as fiscal woes persist

As governors prepare their 2010 state of the state addresses, at least 36 of them are still struggling to close continuing budget deficits for the current fiscal year, while worrying about new gaps looming in their 2011 spending plans. The shortfalls show no signs of going away as state revenue continues to fall far below projections, leaving some lawmakers and the public poised to rethink the role of state government.

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Lights out on payday loans (access required)

Next year, the Arizona Legislature will decide whether to eliminate payday lending in the state, which presents a dilemma for Republican lawmakers who will have to decide between their free-enterprise beliefs and a moral objection to the large fees on short-term loans.

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States look toward expanded gambling for revenue

Long after the recession ends, one of its most visible legacies is likely to be more places - and ways - for Americans to gamble. Pennsylvania lawmakers in October ended the nation's longest state budget standoff by counting on some $250 million in revenue that would be raised by legalizing and taxing casino table games, such as blackjack, craps and roulette.

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Phoenix-area cities paying retention bonuses

Cities in metro Phoenix are paying millions of dollars in retention bonuses as they lay off employees, cut pay or raise taxes amid the recession. Compensation experts question the wisdom of retention bonuses as the state's 9.3 percent unemployment rate has drastically reduced turnover. Cities defend the bonuses as an incentive to retain employees and make up for stagnant wages.

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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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Sale of state prisons running into wall of opposition (access required)

When lawmakers chose April Fool’s Day as the deadline to submit a plan to privatize the state’s prison system, they unwittingly telegraphed just how dubious the plan was. First, the whole idea of putting state prisons under private control was a difficult sell to the public. Then there was a question about how many of the state’s 10 prisons to auction off.

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