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No moratorium, Senate to hear bills early in session (access required)

The Senate is going to hear bills when session starts, Senate President Bob Burns said Oct. 29. This is a departure from the strategy the Senate leadership adopted during the most recent regular session, when a moratorium on hearing non-budget bills was used so lawmakers could direct all their energy to solving the state's record-breaking budget deficit.

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Budget gap grows as result of ‘unrealized savings’ (access required)

Legislative budget analysts said last week that $165 million of the state budget deficit is due to "potential unrealized budget savings" that were assumed as part of the spending plan, which was designed to bridge a $3 billion shortfall. In short, several savings measures won't work as planned.

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Gambling pitched as Arizona’s budget salvation (access required)

The struggling Arizona racing industry is hoping it can sell lawmakers on a proposal to help racetracks stay open and give the state hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. But the idea faces resistance on several fronts, as it would expand gambling by allowing "racinos" and by lifting limits on tribal casinos.

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Budget deficit now estimated at $2 billion

Legislative budget analysts said tax collections in the first quarter of the fiscal year have been so sluggish that they have revised revenue projections downward. Now, the deficit for fiscal 2010 is $2 billion. In order for the state to collect the $7.1 billion it anticipated this year, revenues would have to grow by nearly 1 percent from the prior year. However, collections are down 16 percent after the first three months.

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Lawmakers inch toward special session (access required)

Lawmakers are inching closer to a special session as Senate leadership proposes that the Legislature convene to fix the budget woes of state agencies affected by the governor's veto. House leadership was polling members to see if they support the idea, Senate President Bob Burns told the Arizona Capitol Times on October 22.

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Report ranks Arizona ninth nationally in state, local reliance on sales taxes

Arizona ranks ninth nationally in its reliance on sales taxes to fund its state and local governments, according to a report by a nonpartisan tax research organization. The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation found that 48.4 percent of Arizona's tax base came from general sales taxes and from selective sales taxes on motor fuel, tobacco, insurance premiums, public utilities, amusements and alcoholic beverages.

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The politics of tweets: Arizona leaders, candidates embrace social media

John Paul Mitchell spends two to three hours a day on social media sites, sharing links to articles he finds interesting and regularly engaging people in bursts of 140 characters or less. But the time he spends on his Twitter account, Facebook page and other sites is more than just leisure. Mitchell hopes it will help deliver him the Arizona governorship in 2010.

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