Arizona is one of the fastest growing states in the nation and some parts of our economy are doing well. But for many Arizona residents – in every community across the state – the promise of opportunity, the hope to build a bright future, remains an unattainable dream, despite hard work, despite playing by the rules. For example, median family income for families with children has dropped by $7,000 since 2009 and one in four Arizona children live in poverty.
For decades now, Arizona lawmakers have taken the approach that the way to create opportunity for all is to cut taxes and that will lead to more businesses and jobs coming to Arizona. But after almost three decades of consistent tax cuts, we have not seen the promised economic growth that creates opportunity for all. Instead, what has resulted is an underfunded state budget that is leaving many behind and is unable to maintain the needed investments that will make our fast-growing state economically competitive and create the thriving communities we all want.
Kansas, Nevada and Utah are examples of states that for years, like Arizona, used tax cuts as the tool of choice to attract new businesses and jobs to their states. However, recently, the conservative legislatures in each of those states have taken a new approach and have shifted their focus to raising revenues so that they can make significant new investments in K-12 public education, higher education and infrastructure in order to make their states more economically competitive. The new investments in these states are being driven by broad coalitions of business leaders, parents, educators and others who recognize that their states need to try new strategies that focus on providing people with the education and skills they need to be productive members of the workforce.
Surveys conducted the last two years of Arizona’s top business leaders by Alliance Bank show that making similar investments in Arizona is what is needed to create the economic opportunities for all that we seek. In both years of the survey, Arizona’s business leaders cited the need to invest in our public education system and the quality of our workforce as the top two challenges to doing business in Arizona.
Consistent with what those surveys tells us, the Arizona Center for Economic Progress has identified four key objectives for empowering all Arizonans with better jobs and economic opportunities:
These are the type of strategies that will enable Arizonans to transform their hard-work into more attainable economic goals and brighter futures. Just like in Kansas, Nevada and Utah, making those objectives a reality will require business leaders, parents, educators and every day citizens working together to advocate for economic policies that lead to greater shared prosperity for all. The Arizona Center for Economic Progress stands ready to lead those efforts.
The Arizona Center for Economic Progress
3030 N. 3rd St., Suite 650
Phoenix, AZ 85012