It was fitting that Inauguration Day in Arizona last Monday was chamber of commerce weather. The sunny day matched the mood of the audience there to witness an energetic slate of statewide officeholders take their oaths of office. The sunshine also matches the outlook of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s 2015 Business Agenda.
Doug Ducey, who helped build a world-renowned brand, is ready to bring his business acumen to state government. Arizona’s job creators are ready to get to work with the new governor, as together we strive to ensure Arizona maintains its pro-growth, job-attracting environment. He is right that we should be the pace leader when it comes to job creation. And our new attorney general, Mark Brnovich, has already made it clear that he will challenge the feds when they overreach on regulations that will harm our economy.
The Legislature, from its top leadership to its newly elected freshman members, continues to boast a strong roster of advocates for job growth from both parties who are committed to advancing legislation that increases Arizona’s competitive standing.
The state’s business community is fortunate to have such strong advocates in positions of influence.
This is not to say that there aren’t any clouds on the horizon. Some challenges, such as crafting a balanced budget, are significant and will require a high level of skill and negotiation.
Our Business Agenda reflects this spirit of optimism along with recognition that the state’s fiscal constraints are real.
Our state policy priorities are to encourage a fiscally responsible state budget that ensures that we continue to improve Arizona’s competitive tax climate by continuing to support the implementation of several major tax reforms instituted over the last few years. Arizona’s business community needs certainty in its tax code. Now is not the time to put our landmark pro-growth reforms on hold.
The discussion over the budget will allow lawmakers to look at areas where we can make smart reforms in the K-12 education space. We agree strongly with Gov. Ducey’s call to ensure that a long waiting list does not come between an Arizona student and a great education. Lisa Graham Keegan will be leading our A for Arizona effort to expand and replicate successful educational models and make more high-performing schools available to more kids.
Our efforts to promote a business-friendly legal and labor environment will continue by seeking commonsense reforms to our workers compensation system as we continue our record of promoting policies that help Arizona businesses focus on innovation instead of litigation.
The stars are aligning on the international front, as the governor makes growing Arizona’s profile with our trade partners a priority. We support the governor’s desire to strengthen our ties with our NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico, and we have great minds in the state to advance that vision. Folks like “Mr. Canada” Glenn Williamson, CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council, will certainly be called on to help the governor as we look north, and we have real momentum in Mexico with the reopening of the state’s Mexico City trade office and esteemed business people like David Farca advising the new administration. When it comes to markets in Asia, things are really looking good for Arizona with Rep. Matt Salmon, my old boss and Congress’ only fluent Mandarin speaker, taking the helm of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Combined with new business-friendly visa agreements with China, Arizona is well positioned to capitalize.
At a federal level, we will continue our strong support for Arizona’s military installations and missions. In the regulatory arena, the Chamber will continue to push back against the increasing regulatory threat by agencies like the EPA. Our U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, are now in greater positions of influence with the party change in the Senate. And while the window for immigration reform is narrowing, we have not wavered in our call for broad reforms that we believe will help improve our economy.
As the governor discussed in his inauguration speech, we face very real fiscal challenges in our state. But these challenges are not insurmountable. Gov. Ducey and the Legislature are setting to work to grow this economy, create jobs and bring prosperity to all of Arizona. We can’t wait to get started.
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/.