Recently the City of Phoenix did something shockingly out of character. They made a good financial decision.
Two weeks ago the city council voted 7-1 to end their membership with the Arizona League of Cities and Towns. The League is an organization that depends on taxpayer money to hire lobbyists to persuade Arizona lawmakers to pass or defeat bills often contrary to taxpayer interests. At $145,000 a year, the City of Phoenix represented the largest single membership of the League.
Several of the council members cited the ineffectiveness of the League as their reason for their exit. Although it is likely that the City will simply use the money to hire more internal or contract lobbyists, the vote was still monumental as Phoenix has been a member of the League for over 80 years.
The City of Phoenix’ decision will be a significant signal to other Arizona cities and towns and may spur other local councils to weigh their investment in the organization.
The practice of local municipalities enriching lobbyists to fight for more government authorities and against good reforms that benefit taxpayers is common place. Just three years ago, the Club did independent research into just how much cities were wasting on lobbying activity. But the costs aren’t just monetary. Every year, dozens of bills are introduced at the legislature that promise important protections for taxpayers in the way of property rights, economic liberty and free speech. And each year dozens of city lobbyists work to ensure their defeat.
Though the City of Phoenix’ decision to remove itself from a big organization that solely exists to fight for more government might not have been philosophic – it does represent a win for taxpayers. Hopefully more cities will take their lead; at least on this decision.