[Source: Howard Fischer, Tribune] — Arizona’s dire financial picture is not dulling plans by lawmakers to throw a party for the state’s 100th birthday. The state Senate refused Thursday to take back $2.5 million it had set aside last year for a centennial celebration. In fact, lawmakers even voted to ease the restrictions they had originally put on the funds. Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said his colleagues are ignoring fiscal reality. “We’re in a budget crisis,” he said, with the official deficit this year at $1.2 billion and estimates suggesting it could be $200 million more than that. And the financial picture looks even worse next year with a potential $2 billion gap between revenue and expenses.
“We don’t have money to spend on parties most Arizonans will not be able to attend,” Gould said. Lawmakers set aside $2.5 million two years ago for the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission to come up with plans for celebrating 100 years since the state was admitted to the union on Feb. 14, 1912. Supporters of the plan promised to raise $5 million in matching funds. That, however, has not happened. So SB1337 removes the requirement for the match. Sen. Barbara Leff, R-Paradise Valley, said this isn’t as though the Legislature is taking the money from some other program. She said the cash already has been set aside. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Office of Governor Janet Napolitano] — Governor Janet Napolitano today established the Arizona Centennial Commission (AZCC), by executive order, and charged it with planning a yearlong celebration of Arizona’s 100th birthday, culminating on February 14, 2012. AZCC will collaborate with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission (AHAC) to create a greater awareness of the vibrant culture, heritage and beauty of the Grand Canyon State to residents and visitors. “This is a time like no other in Arizona’s history,” said Governor Napolitano. “The establishment of this Commission enables us to showcase the state’s growth and development from frontier beginnings to 21st century innovation.” AZCC will develop a master plan that contains five major components:
- Generating awareness and engagement by providing a sense of unity and pride among residents.
- Developing participation programs which include a robust yearlong calendar of activities to celebrate the Centennial.
- Implementing educational programs that focus on the state’s past, present, and future.
- Collaborating with AHAC on legacy projects, such as working with communities to highlight their unique historical value.
- Establishing avenues for resources and funding to encourage and support planning at the state and local level for major events and activities.
The Commission will also consist of a cross-section of Arizona business leaders, elected officials and local community historians. Within the coming weeks, Governor Napolitano will be releasing the names of the commissioners.
[Source: Jack Gillum, Daily Star] — There may be time to save paradise before they put up a parking lot. A state representative is in talks with the new owners of Magic Carpet Golf on East Speedway to designate the mini-golf course’s larger-than-life statues in the Arizona Centennial Project, a state historic preservation effort. “It’s just so eccentric and unique,” said State Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. He added that the oddball structures at the park may find a new home at Tucson’s Valley of the Moon. “It’s really important to save the soul of a place,” Farley said. Magic Carpet, at 6125 E. Speedway, is known for its skyline of towering monkey and T-Rex figures that complement a decrepit miniature-golf course. But the park’s former owner, Carol Koplin, sold the property Jan. 4 to the Chapman Automotive Group for $1.8 million because her uncle, who ran the park, died before Christmas. Chapman may use the property as an overflow lot for its nearby Mercedes dealership.