As Arizona looks to its future and begins its next 100 years, the East Valley Partnership believes the state needs to take bold steps to ensure its long-term economic future. We propose a comprehensive economic development plan that includes the following major components:
• Enact fiscal reform — Re-engineering and instituting structural budget reform that includes a stable, fairly balanced tax system that will sustain the state over multiple years.
• Enable economic development — Invigorating the private sector by incentivizing job creation to attract and promote high-wage job growth in sustainable industries such as aviation, aerospace and defense, renewable energy, science and technology, and health care.
• Assure future success — Invest in the capital assets and infrastructure required by the 21st century knowledge-based economy including education programs for K-12, community colleges and universities.
To compete on a global stage, the following strategies should be implemented over time:
• Implementing a common-sense, competitive, business-friendly tax code that helps create high-wage jobs in sustainable industries and promotes capital investment through the eventual decreasing of the corporate income tax, reduction of the business property tax, eventual elimination of the homeowners rebate and allow protections for capital accumulation for Arizona businesses.
• Giving protection to and building upon our most valued asset — education programs including K-12, community colleges and universities.
• Implementing restrictions and limitations on fund sweeps and protecting local government revenue streams that fund areas such as public safety, health care and transportation.
• Creating economic development tools: Empowering the Commerce Advisory Council; tax incremental financing; modernization of the enterprise zone concept; continue investment in needed public infrastructure including transportation, transit, education, public works and utilities; leveraging privatization opportunities.
Our recommendation is that the solutions to balance the short-term budget crisis should not undercut our core strategic investments and that we maintain the appropriate tools to encourage economic development such as a skilled labor force and adequate technological support. We also strongly believe a strong private sector and education system are keys to competitiveness and leading drivers of a successful economy.
The state is in crisis and our financial house must be in order. At the same time, we must enable the creation of wealth and moving our ideas to fruition. In Arizona, this is our opportunity to demonstrate that we choose to compete.
Roc Arnett is president and CEO of East Valley Partnership.