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Industry Sponsors AZ’s Most Expensive Ballot Campaign: Permanent Payday Loans

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October 27, 2008

Phoenix, AZ – Arizona's experiment with high-interest, short-term "payday loans" will become permanent if voters approve an industry-sponsored ballot initiative on Nov. 4. Opponents of Proposition 200 say the measure is a trick to remove the costly loans from any kind of oversight, since Arizona's constitution prohibits any changes in a ballot initiative once it passes.

Proposition 200 would allow payday lenders to charge interest rates of up to nearly 400 percent annually. That's hardly the reform claimed in campaign ads for the proposition, according to Lupe Solis with AARP Arizona.

"The industry has spent more than $13 million to convince the public that this is a good thing. It's something like the fox calling for permission to stay in the henhouse forever."

Solis says several AARP Arizona members have been victims of such lenders, typically paying $800 in fees and interest on a $300 loan.

In ads for Proposition 200, the loan industry argues that payday loans may be the only option for people faced with emergencies such as car repairs. Solis disagrees, saying more than 80 percent of borrowers fail to pay off their loans within the two-week limit, leading to more fees and interest. The industry also contends that the initiative's 24-hour ban on rollover loans would help end the cycle of debt, but Solis says customers will just go on down the block to the next payday loan store to "get over" the ban.

"If you need money, and you think this is going to get you out of the hole, this is not going to do that. This is only going to get you deeper in the hole."

People do have other options if they cannot borrow from family or friends in an emergency, Solis says. In fact, she knows and can tell people about more than 100 other sources in Arizona for short-term loans.

If the initiative fails, the present law permitting payday loan stores will expire in two years.

AARP Arizona is a contributor to the "No on 200" campaign. More information on Proposition 200 is at
www.azsos.gov.

Doug Ramsey/Steve Powers, Public News Service - AZ