Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor, Announces Plan To Buy Back State Capitol Complex

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has announced that all she wants for Valentine's Day is to burn a mortgage.

Brewer said in her State of the State Monday afternoon that she would like to sign a bill to buy back the state capitol complex in Phoenix by the 100th anniversary of Arizona becoming a state -- February 14. Brewer proposed the controversial plan to sell and lease back the state's top government office buildings during a fiscal crisis in late 2009.

"There's just one problem, most of our Capitol Complex, including the building we gather in today, is not ours," Brewer said in the speech to the Arizona Legislature. "So to fortify that symbol, to make all of our Capitol truly ours once again, I'm asking that you send me a bill by Statehood Day that allows me to buy back the Capitol complex. Together, we can celebrate the burning of that mortgage."

Brewer's remarks were greeted with applause from the legislature.

The sale of the complex, which netted the state $1 billion, included the buildings that house the offices of Brewer and other top state executives, the legislature and the state Supreme Court. The state's original Capitol building, now a museum, was not included in the sale. At the time of the sale, Arizona was looking at a $3.9 billion deficit.

Under the terms of the sale, Arizona leases backed and retains control of the buildings. The state sold certificates of participation to investors in a series of sales in January and June of 2010. As part of the purchase, investors gained annual payments from the state government, which gained additional debt. The names of the investors were not disclosed, a move that rankled Democratic leaders in the legislature.

The state started discussing the idea of purchasing back the buildings late last year, including mention of the over $400 million in debt payments the state government would need to pay out over 20 years. In her speech, Brewer said the state now has a "positive cash balance" and a balanced budget.

The Capitol buy back plan was announced towards the end of Brewer's address, which focused primarily on the state's centennial celebration and first 100 years. Brewer used the speech to touch upon several times on her controversial immigration policies, and to remember last year's Tucson shooting that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six others. Brewer indicated that she would deliver a written plan to the Legislature detailing her legislative agenda for 2012.