Arizona Governor Jan Brewer outlined plans for the state’s future during the Centennial State of the State address at the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 10.
This was the second time Brewer delivered the speech. The first reading was in Phoenix on Dec. 9 as the Arizona Legislature returned for the 2012 session.
Before Brewer took the stage, Mike Varney, CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, expressed optimism for Arizona’s continuing economic growth, citing feedback he continues to receive.
“I spoke with a broadcaster who said he had the best month ever in December,” said Varney. “I talked with a CPA, and his assessment of his company’s future and the future of all of his clients was that everybody is doing better right now.”
Varney said survey results show people are expecting more financial success in 2012.
Speaking on the economy, Brewer’s plan for 2012 consists of multiple levels.
Brewer said she plans to push for the planned connection of an interstate that will connect Phoenix and Las Vegas.
“These are the two largest cities in the nation not connected by an interstate highway system,” she said. “This project will promote commerce, tourism and trade across the Western United States. We must not wait.”
Brewer also expressed her support for the Arizona Competitiveness Package, a program she believes will create more jobs by simplifying the tax code for new businesses.
Criticizing Proposition 100, Brewer promised that the three-year one-cent sales tax approved last year would go away as promised in 2013.
While the promise was met with applause, Brian Clymer, Legislative District 26 Chairman, expressed concern regarding the tax cut.
“She is giving a corporate tax break that she hopes will spur additional revenues, but the state needs tax revenues to help us out of the deficit we are still in,” he said.
Clymer cited a study by the Morrison Institute, which suggests that the deficit actually began largely before the recession, due in part to tax cuts.
Still, Brewer claims that Arizona’s economy is continuing to grow from 2011, a year that added 46,000 jobs.
“Arizona’s job growth ranks seventh best in the nation, and we’re just getting started,” she said. “Arizona is open for business.”
While Brewer noted the improvements, she acknowledged that too many Arizonans remain unemployed or underemployed.
On the topic of education, Brewer advocated strongly for reform, promising accountability for education institutions and stronger guidelines for teachers with yearly benchmarks.
At the federal level, Brewer said the government remains critical of how involved they are in the state’s business, citing the Arizona fires in 2011 that burned one percent of the state’s landmass.
“How long will Arizona and other western states have to burn before the federal government will do something about it? We need the federal government to do its part,” she said.
Despite the fires and poor economy over the last year, Brewer voiced her optimism that in 2012, and the rest of the second century, Arizona will not only recover, but will thrive.
“We emerged from tragedy and crisis because we are Arizonans. We are Western strong,” she said. “We have a plan, and it’s the right plan. Arizona now has a balanced budget. Arizona now has a positive cash balance. Arizona will remain the last frontier of opportunity.”