Arizonans for Responsible Lending, a coalition of more than 200 businesses and nonprofit organizations, Democratic and Republican elected officials, religious community leaders, neighborhood leaders, consumer advocates, credit unions, and thousands of concerned citizens across Arizona (including Downtown Voices Coalition), is gratified by Tuesday’s election results. With 99.8% of precincts reporting, Arizona voters rejected the payday industry-funded Proposition 200 by more than 330,000 votes, or a margin of 60% to 40%. Despite being outspent by a margin of 64 to 1, Arizonans for Responsible Lending prevailed because voters reject 400 percent interest rates. Period.
The proposition, which would have granted payday lenders the right to operate in Arizona indefinitely at 400% interest rates, lost in every single county in the state. State Senator Debbie McCune Davis, Chair of Arizonans for Responsible Lending, issued the following statement:
“Arizona voters stated loud and clear: the payday loan industry must play by the rules. It no longer gets to write its own. By overwhelmingly defeating Prop 200, Arizonans sent the following message to the payday lenders both here and across the country: the days of 400% interest rates are numbered. The people demand responsible lending laws.
Voters demanded fair and responsible lending practices in this election, and laws that look after consumers’ interests first. In Arizona, we shall reinstate the Consumer Loan Act and reinforce a more-than-reasonable cap on interest rates of 36%. As Tuesday’s resounding victories in both Arizona and Ohio proved, predatory lenders cannot survive when their practices are fully illuminated by the light of day. They may attempt to get their way through heavy lobbying efforts or expensive initiative campaigns, but the voters understand that 400% interest rates are unacceptable, and they will reject such loose regulations every time.
We have won this battle, but the war is not over. We fully expect to face an onslaught of payday industry lobbying dollars in the 2009 and 2010 legislative sessions, in their attempt to remove the 2010 sunset and continue charging outrageous interest rates. However, our coalition will remain active and determined to protect the integrity of Arizona’s Consumer Loan Act and prevent the payday lenders from extending their special deal beyond 2010. Enough is enough. We would like to thank the many people across Arizona who helped us fight this battle. This is a victory for all of us. And we will not rest until the usury law is back in effect and payday lenders either drop their rates to 36% or leave the state. The days of legalized loan sharking are over.”