Growing Our Economy

Attracting New Industries, Reforming Taxes, and Preparing Arizona’s Workforce

Introduction

The Great Recession took its toll on Arizona. Our economy lost a greater share of workers than any other state except Nevada. But we kept our resolve and worked hard to recover, and since that period we have been building momentum and preparing for the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a new type of crisis and an unexpected challenge that threw the entire world into flux. The economy has improved since the pandemic’s darkest days, but inflation is on the rise, supply chains are in a glut, and uncertainty abounds.

In January, Governor Doug Ducey characterized our state as not only strong but resilient – and right he was. Thanks to the leadership of the governor and Arizona state legislature, we pursued smart, pro-growth policies and already have recovered 100 percent of the private-sector jobs lost due to the pandemic.

With projections earlier this year that Arizona will add nearly 550,000 jobs over the next decade, it is clear that now is the time to work with economic development partners and pursue strategic growth that sets us up for long-term success.

As our state’s governor, I will ensure that businesses are positioned for long-term competitive advantage, both nationally and internationally, and expand growth efforts into new areas of the economy, such as new sub-sectors within advanced manufacturing, as well as the biomedical sector.

The goal is to build on our strengths and begin to identify new and exciting strategies as our economy further diversifies – all of which can be done with hardworking taxpayers in mind.

It also means continuing to advance reforms to our tax policies and ensuring that our education system is preparing students to be ready to fill the jobs of tomorrow.

My ultimate vision as governor is to establish a solid economic foundation where people who want to work hard and move up the career ladder can do so without government holding them back. Tax revenues will grow, tax rates will fall, and essential government services will become more efficient.

Observations

While it is true that Arizona is a national leader in important economic indicators, such as population growth and personal income growth, we do lag other states in areas such as high-wage positions. We need to focus our economic development efforts on attracting new industries – e-commerce, specialized sub-sectors within advanced manufacturing, and the expansion of health care opportunities, including biomedical companies.

We can attract these new industries and convince job creators to relocate to Arizona by continuing to reform our tax policies – reducing both personal and corporate tax burdens – in a way that encourages investments in the state. The current structure and functions of various state government agencies also need to be modernized and realigned in order to remain consistent with the conditions needed for future, long-term economic growth.

A well-educated workforce is a critical ingredient in job creation and retention, and Arizona’s schools are the vehicle to address this need. However, they are not doing as well as they could be. The Arizona Board of Regents determined in its most recent Postsecondary Attainment Report that our statewide educational attainment rate is below the national average and that the rate at which residents pursue postsecondary education varies widely across different communities. These statistics represent not only missed opportunities but significant lost revenue that we could otherwise reinvest or return to taxpayers.

As governor, I also want Arizona to grow from within. The population influx that would be necessary to attract enough high-skilled workers to fill the current workforce shortage is unrealistic, which means that we need to educate and upskill internally, a core part of my plan.

Further, rural Arizona needs a strong advocate, and I will be their champion. Much of our state’s economic growth and infrastructure development has been concentrated in a handful of densely populated urban areas, and it is crystal clear that greater attention is needed, and deserved, elsewhere.

Resource management is critically important as well. The Grand Canyon State administers more than nine million acres of State Trust Lands. Releasing state-administered land holdings more efficiently would expand the acreage of open real estate available for planned, strategic growth projects and would help fund much-needed workforce education and training programs. I will be a committed advocate for the State Land Department’s current effort to responsibly blend resource management with economic development principles.

Finally, many of our traditional industries, including tourism and forestry, are hampered by external conditions and handicapped by excessive federal regulation, the latter of which has both economic and environmental consequences. Ill-advised federal regulations have discouraged, and in many cases outright banned, proactive forest management on federal lands. The result has been the closure of lumber mills, the loss of jobs, and the denial of management practices that would benefit state- and privately-owned lands.

Solutions

Apply a Statewide Return-on-Investment Approach to Education And Economic Development

Employ a strategic vision to public policymaking that empowers government to run more like a business than a bureaucracy.

  • Bring a return-on-investment perspective to economic development that focuses on industry recruitment and small business development and that places a higher, long-term value on infrastructure and education to achieve returns that will benefit all Arizonans.
  • Align the infrastructure needs of rural communities with the economic needs of businesses seeking to expand into and across Arizona.
  • Reform and improve the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Department of Revenue so that they are better able to encourage and streamline important investments in our state’s future.
  • Empower the Arizona State Land Department in its efforts to be an economic development focused entity. Leveraging the responsible release of State Trust Lands for planned growth projects will support workforce education and training initiatives along the way.

Not Just Growth, But Smart Growth

Diversify Arizona’s future by refining economic development efforts toward long-term priority sectors.

  • Target economic development efforts on areas where the state has only scratched the surface – notably, e-commerce, sub-sectors within advanced manufacturing, and biomedical technology. Build on the experience and knowledge that we have gained from attracting strong companies to Arizona, such as Intel and TSMC.
  • Identify and pursue opportunities to further expand crucial supply chain operations into Arizona.
  • Support the Grand Canyon State’s timber industry in rebuilding its capacity to improve the health of our forests and our environmental footprint.
  • Relieve unnecessary burdens on businesses by streamlining government licensing and permitting processes to ensure that they are clear and not open to arbitrary interpretation.

Continue to Advance the Reform of Arizona’s Tax Policies

Build on our success by continuing to improve Arizona’s tax policies in a way that attracts new businesses and benefits taxpayers, families, and existing small businesses. A stronger economy will yield stronger tax collections and allow for lower tax rates.

  • Build on the historic tax cuts passed by the Arizona state legislature and signed into law in 2021 by responsibly eliminating our state income tax.
  • Follow the lead of high-growth-rate states to reform tax policies, reduce the corporate property tax burden, boost investment in Arizona, and encourage industry relocation.

Link Education and Economic Development, And Expand Educational Choice to Address Workforce Challenges

As Arizona’s economy advances, it is expected that more jobs will require a college degree or professional training after high school, and helping men and women meet this standard will be key to seizing the future.

  • Modify the practices and policies of Arizona’s education/workforce training programs in order to produce a return to taxpayers that is higher than their initial cost.
  • Engage in consistent, productive communication with business and industry leaders who can assist in identifying long-term employment growth positions and training and degree programs that can meet those demands.
  • Strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs – such as our universities’ “New Economy” initiative – in order to attract students to degree programs in high-value industries.
  • Proactively work to retain STEM graduates within our state’s industries. Partner with business leaders to develop internship programs and targeted incentives for hiring Arizona university graduates.
  • Support the operation of, and encourage participation in, vocational training programs that will build the workforce necessary for maintaining and expanding an advanced industrial infrastructure.

A robust public education system dramatically increases the preparedness of students entering our universities, which in turn increases the attractiveness of graduates. Arizona leads the country in educational flexibility. As governor, I’ll ensure that our education policies continue to empower parents to make the best decisions for their children.

  • Reform school funding formulas developed in the 1980s to better match today’s environment and economy.
  • Expand results-based funding initiatives that prioritize children’s interests over those of teachers’ union officials.
  • Ensure that funding follows students instead of school districts, allowing parents to choose the educational programs that suit their children’s individual needs.
  • Reform district boundaries so that schools that are performing well can serve more students.
  • Develop and foster micro-schools to offer parents and students additional education options.
  • Support personalized learning models that allow students to utilize their time at school building the skills that they need the most.
  • Establish universal Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to provide families with flexible funding to match their unique needs.
  • Ensure that parents are aware of Arizona’s public school choice options by continuously promoting open enrollment and other programs.

Arizona’s teachers are the bedrock of our education system and a vital component of our state’s workforce. However, a significant number of teacher vacancies in the Grand Canyon State remain unfilled. As governor, I’ll work to make sure that Arizona attracts, trains, and retains the most talented, most effective, and most dedicated educators for our children.

  • Guarantee the national competitiveness of Arizona teachers’ salaries and benefits.
  • Continue to support the success of the Arizona Teachers Academy so that talented young people have the opportunity to enter and contribute to our state’s education system.
  • Broaden pathways into the teaching profession for U.S. military veterans, accomplished career changers, and experienced retirees; embrace residency and mentorship programs; and strengthen licensing reciprocity agreements to welcome educators from other states.
  • Give teachers leeway and resources to develop and deploy innovative methods for meeting students’ academic needs. They know what works best – and what doesn’t.
  • Bolster professional development programs for current and prospective school leaders and empower principals to have a louder voice in their schools’ futures.

Conclusion

Arizona is well-positioned for economic growth, and we need to be ready to embrace both the opportunities and the challenges that come with it.

We have the opportunity – if we take it – to continue growing and diversifying our economy by making Arizona home to talented workers, new businesses, and high-technology manufacturing firms.

We also need to take immediate action to revitalize the state’s traditional industries, including tourism and forestry, which have been hampered by external conditions and handicapped by excessive federal regulation, respectively.

Pursuing a statewide return-on-investment approach will ensure that economic development benefits all Arizonans, especially our rural communities who too often feel distant from these efforts. That includes streamlining government agencies and procedures and making it easier and more attractive for businesses to relocate to all regions of Arizona.

Additional steps include reforming our state’s tax policies and working to improve the educational system in order to guarantee our children a meaningful place in the new economy and our teachers the resources and development opportunities they need and deserve.

Arizona has a bright future – and, as our state’s next governor, I will be dedicated to ensuring that every single Arizonan shares in that opportunity together.

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