The Arizona State Legislature is considering pawning the State Capitol like a cheap watch.
A plan being considered by Governor Jan Brewer and members of the Legislature would sell the Arizona State Capitol building to private investors in an effort to help bridge the current $3.4 billion budget gap.
In the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades, the Governor and legislators are all making concessions. Apparently one of those concessions is to take out what is in essence a payday loan, using the State Capitol as collateral.
The going rate for a state capitol these days is estimated to be upwards of $700 million, which the government could use to bridge the current budget gap. We can probably assume that in a few years, when the state wants to reclaim the building, the price will be considerably higher.
Earlier this month, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar plan to sell and lease the Capitol and other state owned buildings. However, the realities of the depth of the crisis may have set in for Brewer this week when she began meeting with lawmakers to figure out how to close the budget gap.
Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman says the plan is "one of the governor's least favorite options," but she doesn't rule it out.
Even Republican legislators, who shot down a similar plan suggested by former Governor Janet Napolitano in 2008, are looking at this as a viable option.
"We've mortgaged the legislative halls," Chandler Republican Rep. Steve Yarbrough tells The Arizona Republic. "That just tells you how extraordinary the times are.
"To me, it's something we're going to have to do no matter how much we find it undesirable."
At this point, why not go the route of sports stadiums and arenas across the country, and consider corporate sponsorship?
"The Arizona State Capitol at The Wal-Mart Center" has a nice ring to it.