Dateline: April Fool's Day, 2004
PHOENIX--The State of Arizona faced a terrible budget crisis in the year following September 11, 2001. In the fiscal year 2004-2005, the outlook is still for nearly a $1 billion deficit. As many as 40 other states have been trying to deal with the same issues as Arizona has faced, especially since September 11th when an already weakening economy was plunged into full recession. Many of these states have wrestled with increasing unemployment claims, new security and public health issues.
According to The Arizona Republic, growth in the state's population has increased by 40% over the last ten years, and is expected to swell by another 3.1 million people by the year 2020. Arizona lawmakers have decided that Arizona has no choice but to seriously curtail the inflow of additional population into Arizona. Looking at a such a huge budget shortfall, and finding few effective traditional means of counteracting this huge drain on the State's economy, the Arizona Legislature has passed a bill which assesses a surcharge on individuals moving to Arizona. The charge will be effective as of April 1, 2004. Here's how it works:
- The State of Arizona will establish checkpoints at various state border crossings. These will be managed by the Department of Parks and Arizona Game and Fish.
- As people cross into Arizona they will be asked to provide proof of current residency. Acceptable proof of Arizona residency will be restricted to one document: An Arizona Residency Card. These are new, and will be issued to Arizonans who can prove residency prior to April 1, 2004. Proof of residency may consists of an Arizona-issued birth certificate (people born in Arizona will be granted lifetime residency), a pay stub issued by a solvent Arizona company dated prior to April 1, 2004, or a season ticket holder identification card from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns or Phoenix Coyotes professional sports teams.
- People crossing into Arizona without proof of residency will required to pay, in cash or by acceptable credit card, a $5,000 surcharge per adult, $2,000 per child under the age of 12 at the entry checkpoint. No senior discounts will be permitted.
- This is a one time charge. Those leaving and re-entering the State of Arizona at a later date need only show the receipt to gain entry again.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee has taken this action in order to relieve the burden of free health care, education and unemployment benefits that people coming here from other states often utilize. According to a source at the Governor's Office who wished to remain anonymous, "There will be ancillary benefits to the state in many ways. For instance, there will be no need for further freeway construction, mass transit, domed stadiums or development of state conservation lands to build more pink houses with pink tiled roofs."
The Arizona Residency Card may be obtained at any jail facility in the State of Arizona. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was pleased to assist the Arizona legislature in this endeavor, stating, "If we can keep those New Yorkers and other hoodlums out of our fine state, we'll have that many less criminals that I'll end up dealing with in our jails." When asked if the processing of Arizona Residency Cards will burden the prison system, America's Toughest Sheriff replied, "It's no big deal--we've already got the numbering system."
Happy April Fool's Day!
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This is an April Fool's Day joke. People really don't have to pay to get into the State of Arizona, although with the hundreds of people that move to this state every single day, maybe that isn't a bad idea! Here's where you can learn more about the population of Arizona and Phoenix.