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The Arizona Gift Clause in the Twenty-First Century


Most state constitutions include provisions forbidding the state or local governments from subsidizing private entities with public resources. These provisions were fashioned in the nineteenth century in the wake of financial disasters brought on by government investment in businesses such as railroads. Of all such provisions, Arizona’s is the most robust: it forbids not only direct payments of taxpayer money to private recipients, but any type of aid “by subsidy or otherwise.” This article examines how courts have interpreted that prohibition, and how they apply it today, and compares that precedent with other state courts’ interpretations of their respective anti-subsidy provisions.