I had the privilege today of being on the floor of the state House of Representatives as a guest of Speaker of the House Any Tobin for Gov. Jan Brewer’s State of the State address.
I was thrilled that Mexican Consul General Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez delivered remarks to the assembled representatives and guests before the governor’s arrival, stressing the importance of the Arizona-Mexico relationship. It’s encouraging to hear that more legislative delegation visits to Mexico are in the planning stages.
Governor Brewer delivered a speech that made clear to anyone listening that Arizona has done more than any other state to attract jobs. She mentioned a number of the tax reforms we’ve made over the years, including reductions in the corporate income tax and capital gains. As she said, “Our message to job creators has been heard: Arizona is open for business.”
She mentioned companies like Apple, GM and State Farm by name, saying that landing those deals over the last several months was made possible by listening to what businesses need. To that end, the governor called on the Legislature to end the sales tax assessed on the power manufacturers consume. Expect this issue to be a major one this session.
The governor contrasted Arizona common sense with the silliness that plagues Washington, citing the brouhaha over keeping the Grand Canyon open while Congress and the White House stumbled their way through the government shutdown. She rightly urged the feds to get to work for American people.
The governor shifted to education’s essential connection to a thriving economy. She commented that improving the business environment has been a hallmark of the last five years, but that she’s proud of what we’ve done for families, including school choice legislation.
By 2018 three out of five jobs will require post-secondary training. The governor made a full-throated appeal to stop funding the status quo, to reward innovation and to fund the results we want. She is seeking this session to reward and replicate the practices that help students achieve through her Student Success Funding model, which will reward schools monetarily for student results.
In the area of higher education, she called on the Arizona Board of Regents to develop a plan and adopt a policy for stable tuition for the four years it should take a student to graduate.
As you could imagine, reforms at Child Protective Services loomed large. The governor announced that she had abolished CPS as we know it in place of a child welfare office that will report to governor. She called on the Legislature to statutorily establish a separate agency that focuses on families in distress and makes child safety must be priority.
This might be Gov. Brewer’s final State of the State address. She has many challenges ahead of her this legislative session, but she should not be bashful about telling the world about all that Arizona has done to jumpstart its jobs machine. She should be applauded for continuing to keep her foot on the gas in 2014.