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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New "Urban Streets" Guide Could Help Arizona Become More Walkable, Livable

In Phoenix the National Association of City Transportation Officials unveiled its new Urban Street Design Guide, a handbook that can help Arizona’s cities make their streets better for people and business.  The guide recommends that cities treat streets as public spaces for people of all ages and abilities and design streets to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users in addition to motorists.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Foodborne Illness Racks up $22 million in Economic Costs in 2012 and 2013

According to a new study by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delays in implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act have put lives at risk at a cost of $1,363,353 in Arizona. Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Food Safety Scares 2013

This report offers a snapshot look, from October 2012 to October 2013, at multistate foodborne illness outbreaks identified by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The economic cost of just the multistate outbreaks caused by food products recalled over the past 12 months comes to more than $22 million.

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Media Hit | Tax

The Center for Public Integrity: State pro-business organizations are publicly funded, but privately controlled

Serena Unrein, the public interest advocate at Arizona PIRG, said there’s been no evidence of malfeasance at the Arizona Commerce Authority, but that without full transparency, it’s impossible to know for sure.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New Report Identifies Most Troublesome Private Lenders to Students

Thousands of American students are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes about private student loans, according to a new report from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Higher Ed

Student Loan Interest Rate Deal Will Make Things Worse

Senate lawmakers last night agreed to a deal on student loan reform that could be voted on as early as Tuesday of next week. The new proposal makes long-term changes to the student loan system, which address Congress’ budget crisis by charging student loan borrowers more. This deal prompted Arizona PIRG to call on Arizona Senators McCain and Flake to vote against the bill.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Tax

Ag Subsidies Pay for 20 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high-fructose corn syrup, at a rate that would buy 20 Twinkies for each taxpayer every year, according to a new report from Arizona PIRG, “Apples to Twinkies 2013.” Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy one half of an apple per taxpayer.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG | Higher Ed

Interest Rates for Arizona Student Loan Borrowers Double

Due to Congressional inaction, the interest rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled on July 1 from 3.4-percent to 6.8-percent. According to the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG), the change will translate into a $902 increase in debt per Arizona college student, per loan.  However, because most new student loans are issued in August and September, Congress can still pass a retroactive fix.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

As New Health Insurance Rate Increases Become Effective, Consumer Group Provides Analysis & Offers Recommendations

Today, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund released A Glimpse into Arizona’s Health Insurance Rate Review Program. The document provides an initial analysis on how effectively Arizona is reviewing proposed health insurance rate increases for the individual market since taking over that responsibility from the federal government.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Arizona Republic: Approval of $66 mil Arizona highway plan questioned

A project that went from zero to $66 million in two weeks will be the largest rural-highway project Arizona builds in the next five years. "It’s astonishing that would happen,” said Serena Unrein, a transportation advocate with Arizona’s Public Interest Research Group. “They took options that had been on the table for months and made some dramatic changes last minute.”

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Transparency in City Spending

The ability to see how government uses the public purse is fundamental to democracy. Transparency in government spending checks corruption, bolsters public confidence, improves responsiveness, and promotes greater effectiveness and fiscal responsibility. Cities across the country have been moving toward making their checkbooks transparent by creating transparency portals and posting recipient-specific spending data online.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Billion-Dollar Democracy

The first presidential election since Citizens United lived up to its hype, with unprecedented outside spending from new sources making headlines. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Demos analysis of reports from campaigns, parties, and outside spenders to the Federal Election Commission found that our big money system distorts democracy and creates winners and losers.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Elections Confidential

Elections Confidential describes how secret donors poured hundreds of millions into the 2012 election through “social welfare” non-profits that are really political vehicles and via shell corporations formed as conduits to hide a funder’s identity. 

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Tax

Subsidizing Bad Behavior

Corporations accused of wrongdoing commonly settle legal disputes with government regulators out of court. Doing so allows both the company and the government to avoid going to trial and the agency gets to appear as if it is teaching the company a lesson for its misdeeds. However, very often the corporations deduct the costs of the settlement on their taxes as an ordinary business expense, shifting a significant portion of the burden onto ordinary taxpayers to pick up the tab.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble In Toyland

The 2012 Trouble in Toyland report is the 27th annual PIRG survey of toy safety. In this report, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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Blog Post | Higher Ed

The New Student Battle Cry: Don't Double My Rate! | Serena Unrein

The media and the country are just waking up to the alarming fact that unless Congress acts by July 1, the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Congress must not let that happen.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB announces major investigation of bank overdraft fee practices | Diane E. Brown

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will announce overdraft fee investigation, unveil "penalty box" disclosure, and possibly end $39 lattes.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Arizona's Next 100 Years | Diane E. Brown

As we celebrate Arizona’s centennial today, I am reminded how lucky I am to live in a state with an independent nature and breathtaking natural beauty. But I also wonder about Arizona’s next 100 years.

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Blog Post | Transportation

US House Transportation Bill for the 19th Century, not the 21st Century | Serena Unrein

With much fanfare and 854 days late, the U.S. House last week introduced bills to fund our nation's transportation system for the next five years. The new rules for spending $260 billion over five years would be tilted more toward highways with less going to buses, rail, biking and pedestrian trails.

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Blog Post | Transportation

New TIFIA Rules Will Hurt the Public | Serena Unrein

The one major transportation program that was significantly expanded in last week's new surface transportation bill was TIFIA, the federal loan program meant to complement other forms of financing for major transportation projects. In expanding the program, Congress also transformed the program from one in which performance critieria were used to select which proposals most deserved tax dollars into a first-come-first-served pool that will no longer prioritize projects that provide the most public benefits.

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