Adoption of pro-growth budget concludes session marked by adoption of bills to improve business environment, education funding, initiative process
PHOENIX (MAY 27, 2019)—Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer released the following statements following the state Legislature’s passage of a fiscal year 2020 budget:
“The state Legislature should be applauded for passage of a budget that makes Arizona more competitive, while ensuring state government meets it core responsibilities, including the continued implementation of the 20% average statewide teacher pay increase by school year 2020 and the accelerated restoration of District and Charter Additional Assistance funds, which can be used for various reasons, including to boost teacher pay.
“After passage of the budget, Arizona’s tax position is stronger, our rainy day fund is healthier, and our teachers are better compensated.
“This session was an excellent one for job creators. In addition to the pro-growth state budget, the Legislature ensured the state’s continued economic growth by passing the Drought Contingency Plan and solidifying our water future; it positioned Arizona to be a leader in the emerging PropTech field; and it tore down barriers to employment by reforming the state’s occupational licensing rules, which is good news both for job seekers and employers.
“Legislating and governing aren’t easy jobs. Thanks to members of the Legislature from both parties and Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona is better off today than it was when session began in January. On behalf of Arizona’s job creators, the Arizona Chamber thanks them for their hard work.”
[For more on the state budget, read Glenn Hamer’s recent commentary.]
“Taxpayers were winners in this year’s budget thanks to a tax conformity plan that lowers the state income tax rate for all filers, reduces the number of tax brackets down to four, and establishes a new personal exemption that matches the federal exemption.
“Credit to lawmakers who worked with the business community to craft a deal that brings state tax policy into alignment with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Wayfair policy, under which the state can collect sales tax on internet purchases from out-of-state sellers. This wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do to even the playing field between brick-and-mortar retailers and their online competitors.”
“Lawmakers kept their promise this year to continue implementing the 20×2020 teacher pay raise plan, and they accelerated the restoration of District and Charter Additional Assistance, which can be used to increase teacher pay. And lawmakers continued their commitment to giving more students access to a high quality school, increasing by $30 million results-based funding (which brings the total to $68 million ongoing) and ensuring that low-income schools get the majority of the funding.
“The Chamber was very pleased that, thanks to bipartisan legislation, there will be more transparency around the reporting of school districts’ empty and underutilized space, of which there could be more than 1.4 million square feet. If we’re going to continue to increase teacher pay, we need to determine whether too many resources are being diverted to non-educational purposes.
“The session saw a renewed effort to strengthen Arizona’s workforce development efforts, with a commitment to phase-in a $10 million bonus funding program for high schools that produce graduates who have obtained industry certifications thanks to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, and a budget that funds community college programs in the health professions and aerospace technology. We’re also encouraged that a concept represented in H.B. 2657 by Rep. Jeff Weninger to expand workforce training for in-demand jobs in IT and manufacturing will be piloted with federal workforce dollars.
“Thanks to this budget, Arizona is making sure its talent pipeline is ready to meet employer demand.”
[For more on Results Based Funding, read Glenn Hamer’s recent commentary.]
Initiative petition reform
“The Legislature’s passage of S.B. 1451 makes the initiative petition signature-gathering process more secure, ensuring that individuals convicted of fraud, forgery, and identity theft aren’t gathering voters’ personal information, and it institutes consequences for non-compliance. These provisions apply to paid circulators only, and will not interfere with grassroots volunteer efforts pursued by Arizona citizens. The citizen initiative process has been vastly improved thanks to this bill.”
Trade, tourism, and transportation
“This session made Arizona more competitive beyond its borders. The budget funds important improvements to I-17 to alleviate congestion at a notorious trouble spot, which is good news for freight mobility and tourism. The budget increases funding to the Arizona Office of Tourism, the state’s marketing agency to the rest of the world. And the budget funds cold storage facilities at the Mariposa international port of entry in Nogales. This investment is critical as we anticipate the congressional passage of USMCA and increased shipments of fresh produce from Mexico via Nogales.
“We are also thrilled that the Legislature funded additional trade offices in Mexico and the state’s first in Israel. A trade office in Israel—the world’s startup nation—is a natural for Arizona, the country’s startup state. Arizona and Israel have much in common, and a new trade office will make our existing ties even stronger.”
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