The article, Study: Arizona, other Mountain states to lead economic growth in 2016, from www.azcentral.com, reports that Arizona and other Rocky Mountain states could see the nation’s strongest economic growth next year, supplanting Texas and other south-central states hurt by falling oil prices. That’s the prediction from Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, which expects Arizona and seven other Mountain states to grow 3.13 percent next year, virtually unchanged from an expected 3.15 percent this year and up from 2.66 percent in 2014. Gains in the construction, high-tech and service sectors will help the region, including a projected 23 percent rise in housing starts in 2016. “The Mountain states have been humming along nicely through the third-quarter 2015, with the construction, high-tech, and service sectors having above-average employment growth,” according to the report. Arizona is the most populous state in the region. While some neighboring states, including Colorado, will be hurt by a decline in the natural resources/mining sector, the region will see gains from hospitality, tourism, housing and other sectors. The report also cited the region’s healthy population growth, although that could prove a mixed blessing for some local governments, Standard & Poor’s said. Population growth would help to boost sales and property tax revenue for governments but also lead to increased demand for municipal services and capital improvements. Credit conditions for most states are favorable, said Standard & Poor’s, which evaluates state and local government finances.