Tough times for the land of Goldwater; it seems the desert isn’t the only thing that’s dry out West. The Arizona Republic reports the state is seeking an immediate cash infusion to help fight an ever-growing budget deficit, and is looking at selling a number of state properties. The government would use the proceeds for the general fund, enter into what could be quite expensive lease arrangements and then repurchase the buildings when the leases expire.
Call it a sign of desperate times: Legislators are considering selling the House and Senate buildings where they’ve conducted state business for more than 50 years.
Dozens of other state properties also may be sold as the state government faces its worst financial crisis in a generation, if not ever. The plan isn’t to liquidate state assets, though.
Instead, officials hope to sell the properties and then lease them back over several years before assuming ownership again. The complex financial transaction would allow government services to continue without interruption while giving the state a fast infusion of as much as $735 million, according to Capitol projections.
For investors, the arrangement means long-term lease payments from a stable source.
Once any deals are approved, money could begin flowing into state coffers in as little as 90 days.
The plan has bipartisan backing, but that doesn’t make the prospect of paying rent for buildings once owned free and clear by taxpayers any easier to swallow.
"We’ve mortgaged the legislative halls," said an exasperated state Rep. Steve Yarbrough, a Chandler Republican. "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."