Give Freedom A Chance With The Prosperity States Compact

South Tucson is in ruins
Sen. Steve Montenegro

By Sen. Steve Montenegro and Nick Dranias

Shouldn’t Arizona and every state in the nation have at least one tool to deliver less government, less regulation and more constitutional fidelity for a local community that wants it?

We certainly have enough tools that do the opposite.

Arizona law gives local communities an extensive menu of options to bury themselves in ever more government. They can choose from at least 40 mini-governments called “special districts” under Arizona law. Cloaked with innocuous names and widely divergent purposes like stadium districts, water districts, hospital districts, theme park districts, and others, they are layered on top of federal, state and county government, sometimes on top of cities and towns, and even sometimes on top of each other. More than 301 exist in Arizona according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And Arizona is typical of every state in the nation.

All of these mini-governments have one thing in common: Every special district creates and sustains bigger, more intrusive and more expensive government than existed before.

Each wields regulatory, taxing and/or borrowing authority that supports spending that would not otherwise exist. Not a single special district in Arizona or any other state in the nation delivers less government for any community.

Shouldn’t there be at least one?

Yes, says the Prosperity States Compact bill advancing with the help of Senators Steve Smith, Sylvia Allen, Nancy Barto, Warren Petersen, and Sonny Borrelli, as well as Representatives Noel Campbell, David Livingston, Darin Mitchell, Mark Finchem, and Anthony Kern in the Arizona legislature, and also by state legislators in Mississippi, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

The Prosperity States Compact would finally create something truly innovative and good on the special-district landscape: The Prosperity District.

What does the Prosperity District do? Simply put, it hits the reset button on big government for any local community that wants to.

Once formed, a Prosperity District repeals within its boundaries inefficient, corrupt and just plain stupid “spaghetti code” regulations and governing authorities that have been layered on top of the state and federal constitutions, the common law and the criminal law. Within the district, that heap of bad public policy is replaced with a streamlined local government designed to deliver the prosperity that naturally arises from freedom and responsibility.

A Prosperity District is a local government strictly limited to protecting individual rights and furnishing user-fee supported, competitively-bidded municipal services. There’s no eminent domain authority, no civil forfeiture authority, no taxing authority, and no power to give political handouts to cronies.

It isn’t another layer of government; it is, rather, a voluntary, localized and lower-cost solution to the hodgepodge of local governments and special districts that might otherwise occupy the same space.

Prosperity Districts wipe the slate clean above a constitutional, common law and criminal law baseline, giving any community that wants it the state of the art in efficient, effective and freedom-friendly public policy.

And it gets even better than that.

Although a Prosperity District starts by repealing and replacing burdensome state and local regulations when formed, it can eventually push back on federal regulations as well. Once a second state joins Arizona in passing the Prosperity States Compact legislation, an interstate compact will be formed. Congressional consent—usually in the form of a joint resolution signed by the President— gives the Prosperity States Compact the status of federal law and the power to override any conflicting mandate of any federal agency.

Too good to be true? Not at all.

The Prosperity States Compact uses a proven method to achieve deep reforms in an unfavorable political environment. By starting small and only in communities that voluntarily embrace them, Prosperity Districts don’t threaten established order as much as statewide or national reform. And once one takes root, the proof – economic, political and otherwise – will be impossible to ignore.

We know this because there’s evidence across the globe. The Soviet Union fell in large part because of the example set by West Berlin. China became the economic powerhouse it is today in large part by replicating most of the economic policies of Hong Kong – a few special economic zones in four cities later grew to encompass most of the country. Even the United States itself was once a similar example to the world.

Deep reform in a small area can deliver results that are so obviously successful that the most powerful interests, adverse cultures and ideologies get swept aside in the rush to replicate the success.

With leadership from citizens and legislators, passage of the Prosperity States Compact could result in a handful of communities in Arizona and sister states becoming beacons of freedom and prosperity and liberty—from the grassroots-up, rather than the top-down.

Don’t Arizonans—and Americans—deserve that chance?

Sen. Steve Montenegro is the primary sponsor of the Prosperity States Compact bill. Nick Dranias is a constitutional scholar and president of the Compact For America Educational Foundation, Inc.

About Opinion 362 Articles
Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Huey Freeman, the Editorial Board of the Arizona Daily Independent offers readers an opportunity to comments on current events and the pressing issues of the day. Occasionally, the Board weighs-in on issues of concern for the residents of Arizona and the US.


  1. Juanita, before you make a judgement about it being communism, understand it first. Did you know that your government, yes your U.S. government has had a plan for communism/socialism since the 40’s? What they are presenting is a great start of what can be better, not necessarily the final and only way. 45 pages are minimal when you are putting in place a great idea to start with such as this.

  2. Has anyone actually read the bill on this? It is a monster of complexity and I don’t think anyone at the legislature actually understand exactly what it does or how it works. Everything I have read on this subject sounds like communism. Beware of what you wish for. Mr. Drainias, make the bill understandable by the average intellectual citizen and cut the size down to something reasonable. 45 page bills are never good.

    • Juanita, the inner workings of your car and your IPOD are complex. But what they do is simple and easy to use. The same is true about the Prosperity States Compact. It creates a reset button to restore free markets, limited government and the constitution–the exact opposition of communism. A very easy idea. But untangling the spaghetti code to get the job done is inherently complex if you want to do it right. And it is done right.

      • It is hard to imagine that untangling the spaghetti code of a bewildering and harmful complex of government laws and regulations is impossible to imagine as long as that effort is dependent on the corrupt govt`s in place throughout. To accomplish such a near impossible feat swill require the defeat at the ;polls of the corrupt Dem Nd Repub Parties. The mechanism for this first step os the organization of a n Independent Party to put the necessary political per back on the hands of the people and even then it will be a full time job to keep THEM honest. Power indeed corrupts, especially the power derived from the authority to use our taxes to maintain that power for the benefit of our already corrupt public officials.

    • Juanita,
      I have actually read the bill. It is lengthy in order to provide clarity, but is not “a monster of complexity.” It is so unlike communism that it is light years away from it. It improves freedom, and gives people the opportunity to repeal unnecessary and burdensome regulations and replace them with limited common sense regulations. Does that sound like communism to you?

  3. Bravo, Senator Montenegro! A working example of a tax- and regulation-free zone will draw the rest of Arizona in. 100% voluntarily.

  4. What a great idea! If people have the right to incorporate and heap more government on themselves why shouldn’t they have the right to reverse that process by the same authority?

  5. I want to give my endorsement to this program. I served in Vietnam during the years 1966-1967 and would serve my country again. I know first hand about government control, and a government that does NOT support the American People. We need a program that supports the American people, their families, and bring back freedoms in a way that supports everyone in a totally fair way as American’s. If we are American, we need to love, support, and honor America! Anything less than this is not for America nor honors our country.

  6. I stand for Compact America, it’s the best program that I have seen so far to accomplish what has been needed for way too many years…

  7. We need a program like this, we need America to be governed by less government control. We need police and fire protection but we also need less government control! The majority of the American people do not realize what our government has been heading towards since the 40’s and 50’s. It’s time we stand up to our government, take control of our government back! We have the best government, best constitution, best country in the world – we allowed the government to control. We need Compact America within our states…

  8. I want to see another Hong Kong or Singapore. I visited Hong Kong and was facinated with their economic strengths for the size of the island and without any natural resources. Even after handling over to China, the communist party of the republic of China did not want to mess with how Hong Kong is doing their thing.

    My girlfriend who lives in Singapore would comment about how well the mass transit works and how much growth they had after reducing their government strangle hold on business development. She is happy and is successful. That’s what we need in AZ and the whole of America.

  9. The reality of this compact do not match the image. Not a single one of the states listed as being a part of this compact could be defined as prosperous. The states that actually enjoy real economic prosperity, that are attractive to middle class newcomers, and have high household income are not in this compact. North Dakota ranks 20th in household income. Arizona, ranked 30th in household income, would fit right in. Oklahoma is ranked 40th in household income while Mississippi is dead last at 50th.

    Middle class families want good public services. Companies that employ lots of middle class workers will not move to places that lack quality services like good schools, well maintained roads, and good public safety. Not surprisingly, the states that show the most growth in the middle class and have the highest household income have the most regulation and spend the most on their schools and roads. And none of them is going to be joining this compact any time soon.

    • that is why OK, AZ, ND and MS needs this. They have been kept from growth by regulations up the gazoo. States that wants economic growth and more freedom are the ones who want to be in this compact because they have been edged out by the East and West coasts.

    • That’s the whole goal of the movement, to turn states and local districts that might be struggling into economic powerhouses. Prosperity districts are a response to the stagnation imposed by high taxes and onerous regulatory burdens. If it worked for Disney World, it can work for AZ.

  10. Why are so many American’s afraid of good change that brings back America to what it was built on? What is being offered here is the first real plan to bring back America with less government control. Why is it so hard to see the more Government control in our country and states, the less freedom, liberties, and being ‘united’ we will be.? There is a whole lot more to be cautious about within our own neighborhoods than the plan that is being brought here.
    Come folks, let’s take accountability and take a stand. Take a stand America and make a difference together. Nick is absolutely right when he says “Freedom works everywhere it is tried.” Government and bigger government is and never will be freedom. Thank You Nick Dranias.

  11. Dale-the Prosperity States Compact fully exerts the 10th Amendment authority of the state to deliver in a convenient and durable package all of the best public policy you would ever want to see at the state and, with congressional consent, at the federal level. The difference is that it is plausible because it starts small, with 100% of all affected landowners and electors, and then grows as it proves itself. Rather than changing everything all at once or nibbling around the edges statewide or nationally, it delivers the full package of reform in a small footprint so the concept of freedom can prove itself again.

  12. Albert-there’s nothing utopian about it. Freedom works everywhere it is tried. What’s utopian is the notion that the only choices we should have at the local level is between big and bigger government. Also, a user fee is voluntary. A tax is not. A user fee driven by competitively bidded services will be as cheap as a market will bear. A tax is as high as 51% want it. Police and fire services are bidded out to unincorporated towns by counties all the time. As for your assessment of the Soviet Union, I think you miss the point. North Korea’s obsession with secrecy and stifling of information about the outside world shows that communism can be maintained for quite a long time without a clear superior alternative being known to the people. That’s what West Berlin provided Russia. Finally, Hong Kong is China right now. It is silly to argue about whether China is worse than the U.S. when the point is that it is MUCH better than it was during the cultural revolution thanks to the example set by Hong Kong and Den Xiou Peng allowing an experimentation with its policies.

  13. States working together on common interests is a good thing. So why does this worry me so much? How does it link to the notion of a “limited purpose” Constitutional Convention? What does the compact provide that the 10th Amendment doesn’t already provide? I hope one or more of our AZ Senators or Representatives will comment.

  14. Sounds good at first look, but…exactly what is the difference to my fixed income between a “user-fee” and a tax? Do we really want bottom-of-the-barrel police and fire services through “competitive bidding?” Just sayin’…look before you leap.

    And rewriting history doesn’t help: The Soviet Union fell for many reasons. People were alienated from the rulers. As was often said, “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” That, along with the massive spending on armaments for “defense” bankrupted the nation. Have you checked out the US military budget lately? And West Berlin was an artificial construct supported by US and allied dollars.

    China — with communist politics and capitalist economy they have something close to slave labor. Factories owned and run by the army, for instance. Not at all like Hong Kong.

    Interestingly, the “Prosperity District” concept sounds just a bit like the old utopian socialist visions or the hippie communes of the ’60s.

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