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Are struggling community banks prepared for a new threat? (access required)

Most community banks in Arizona are losing money, lending is down, and a veteran banker concedes that every day is a challenge. It was a little too challenging for two Arizona banks, which were closed by state and federal regulators Aug. 14. A third bank is operating under federal orders to improve what were found to be “unsafe and unsound banking practices.”

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Budgets overshadow social, political highlights

The national economy may have dominated the 2009 state legislative session, but history was also made both politically and on the social policy front. Many expected 2009 to be quiet in state political circles before the surge of 37 gubernatorial races in 2010, but the year will go down as one of the most explosive with the removal of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in Illinois, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's (R) surprising decision to step down before her term ended and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's (R) admission to an extramarital affair.

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Most states plug budget holes, for now

This year's state legislative session will go down as one of the most brutal in recent memory as the national recession forced lawmakers to find money to cover a staggering $215 billion in estimated budget gaps for 2009 and 2010 - the equivalent of more than $700 for every man, woman and child in the country.

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Homebuilding strong in Mesa

MESA - New home construction permits are on the rise in Mesa. The city has seen an increase in the permit activity since falling below 20 in February. Mesa saw 72 permits in June, the latest numbers available. The number of permits is considered a good measure of upcoming home construction activity.

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Sales tax breaks erode state revenues

As shoppers in 15 states rush to buy tax-free clothing and school supplies this August, some lawmakers are experiencing buyer's remorse: Their "sales-tax holidays" are pinching revenues at a time when state coffers are hurting.

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Budget woes, recession challenge day-labor centers

Until a day-labor center opened nearby, jobseekers in Keenan Strand's north Phoenix neighborhood used to drink from people's hoses, urinate on walls and duck behind bushes to escape triple-digit heat while waiting for work. But the economic downturn is threatening the 6-year-old day-labor center and others like it around the country, leaving some advocates concerned that job seekers will return to neighborhoods and street corners in search of work.

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