With the 2012 legislative session well underway, here are a few thoughts from the Chamber notebook (apologies to Bob Robb)…
Centennial tax agenda: The right moves at the right time
The tremendous competitiveness package signed into law last year is a tough act to follow, but Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan for 2012 is hitting all the right notes. Her proposed tax reforms focus on those areas where Arizona’s tax code could use a little polish.
When I talk to my friend Steve Zylstra at the Arizona Technology Council, we’re both excited about the governor’s desire to reduce the tax rate on capital gains and the potential to make our state friendlier to investors. Rep. J.D. Mesnard should be commended for getting the conversation at the Capitol started on capital gains.
We also like her call to increase the number of years a business can carry operating losses forward against future profits. Under current federal law, companies can carry losses forward up to 20 years, but under state law, we’re limited to just five years. Startups and businesses making capital intensive investments will welcome an improvement in this area. Keep an eye on Sen. Michele Reagan’s bill that would bring state policy in line with the feds’.
Those reforms combined with the governor’s support for extending a 100 percent phased-in elective sales factor to exporters of services – like the competitiveness package did for manufacturers – will help bring Arizona’s tax code into the 21st century. Sen. Rick Murphy should be applauded for his hard work in this area. His bill has already cleared the Senate and we look forward to seeing it make it across the finish line and receive a signature from the governor.
Good news on vehicle emission program
The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) earlier this month voted in favor of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s repeal of the California Low Emission Vehicle Program (CA-LEV), or as it became to be knows in Arizona, the Clean Car Standards Rule.
As the Chamber’s environmental policy analyst, Rebecca Hudson, noted in a column last year when ADEQ first proposed the repeal, looking to California for inspiration on public policy usually comes with a big price tag.
CA-LEV was adopted by GRRC at the direction of the Napolitano administration in May 2008, effectively tying Arizona’s tailpipe emissions standards to California’s stringent – and expensive – standards.
Kudos to ADEQ Director Henry Darwin for signing the repeal and ensuring that Arizona is now governed by the federal vehicle emissions rule, which will result in effectively the same improvements in air quality that would have been experienced with the Clean Car Standards Rule but without the additional costs to the state, auto dealers and consumers.
Rep. Carter and Rep. Yee preparing students for tomorrow’s economy
Rep. Heather Carter and Rep. Kimberly Yee should be applauded for their work to advance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the state.
Rep. Carter has introduced a bill to make it easier for STEM professionals to get certified to teach and carry their expertise into the classroom, making a difference where it’s needed most.
Rep. Yee has introduced legislation to boost STEM education in poorly performing schools by calling for a State Board of Education intervention strategy when a school has earned a D or F for two consecutive years.
Employers in Arizona need a pipeline of future workers with the skills to succeed in tomorrow’s industry, but we won’t get there with low standards and even lower expectations.
I know my friend Steve Macias, the chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council, which is the state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers, welcomed the president’s comments on manufacturing during this week’s State of the Union address.
But the president’s talk about making job creators pay more in taxes won’t do anything to create jobs, it will cost them. I realize we’re in an election year, but I hope we can tamp down the bashing of the entrepreneurs and risk-takers who make this economy go.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in his response to the president’s speech, gave an effective, adult talk on the real challenges and opportunities facing the country and what government should and should not do to meet those challenges. It’s worth a watch if you missed it.
Senate and House leaders setting right tone
I realize it is still early in the legislative session, but I do want to acknowledge the leadership of Senate President Steve Pierce and Andy Tobin in working to establish a working environment at the Capitol where the people’s business can get done without too much rancor.
Once again, President Pierce found himself vaulted into leadership due to unusual circumstances, but he has employed his rancher’s common sense to bring his caucus together to address the state’s priorities.
Speaker Tobin continues to burnish his reputation as a leader with a laser-like focus on job creation. He played a major role in last year’s competitiveness package and I expect he’ll be leading the charge again this year for job retention and attraction.
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry