In 500 days as governor of Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has "changed everything about state government — its priorities, its spending habits, its size and its culture," she told a gathering of business people and legislators Thursday in Oro Valley.
Brewer, seeking her party's gubernatorial nomination in August, buoyed by the passage of Proposition 100 in May and bolstered by public support for Senate Bill 1070 on immigration status, told a joint meeting of the Marana and Tucson chambers of commerce that she has not changed who she is.
"I will not let others tell you who I am," said Brewer, facing the primary challenge of State Treasurer Dean Martin and businessman Buz Mills. "I am Jan Brewer," a "pragmatic conservative," "proud daughter," past legislator, county supervisor, secretary of state and "a governor who will always tell you the truth, always try to do the right thing, no matter how hard the choices."
She avows "real conservatism, conservatism that is pragmatic, sound, honest, tough and thoughtful," governance "that understands government is not the answer to all of our woes."
When Brewer assumed the office from Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, Arizona faced deficits totaling nearly $5 billion over two fiscal periods.
"We were careening towards a cliff, and some people wanted to step on the accelerator," Brewer said. "I didn't. I knew we had to slam on the brakes."
Since then, decision-makers have "permanently decreased state general fund spending by $2 billion," Brewer said. "That's hard to say, isn't it." State employment was reduced by more than 10 percent.
Brewer and the Legislature "changed the priorities and direction of our state," she said. "This is change for the better, change that is real. The winners are the people of Arizona. The losers are the naysayers, the obstructionists, the pessimists, and those who would prefer to divide us and tear us down rather than bring us together and move us forward.
"Well, those people lost. The rest of us won."
Arizona's "comeback started in earnest" on May 18, when the voters approved the Proposition 100, three-year, 1 percent sales tax increase.
They told the leadership "our faith in them had been well-placed," Brewer said. "On May 18, the voters did the hard thing … for schools, universities, colleges, public safety, our most vulnerable.
"We all recognize Proposition 100 isn't a cure-all," Brewer said. While government has been reduced "more than any time in state history, we still face tough choices." In three years, Proposition 100 expires, with its estimated $1 billion annual revenue for state coffers.
Brewer is "laser-focused" on getting the Arizona economy on track. An overhaul of the Department of Commerce is under way. "Protecting the jobs we already have in Arizona is as important to me as creating new jobs," Brewer said. Any jobs package "must be a package the state can afford."
She has been "calling for tax reform since March 2009," said Brewer. She wants a more "friendly" tax code, one that assists employers, attracts investment capital and creates new jobs.
Brewer 'will defend' 1070, 'no apologies'
Gov. Jan Brewer is "demanding that Washington fulfill its primary obligation to the citizens of this state," securing its southern border, enforcing the rule of law, and protecting Arizona and "all of America" from drug- and human-smuggling crime and violence.
Senate Bill 1070, the law she signed, "does not regulate different than the current federal law, nor does it pre-empt federal law in any way," Brewer said. "There is a lot of misinformation," some of it "intentional, to fan the flames," she believes.
No new or additional documents are required. The same documents required for legal immigrants by the federal government are needed under the state law, she said. Statewide, "law enforcement supports the law."
Brewer is "deeply disappointed" in people advocating boycotts of Arizona, those "who would suggest additional economic penalties against our state are the solution." How can a boycott "be construed as constructive?" With language "verbatim from the federal law," how can Arizona's law be characterized as "hateful?" she asked.
"I refuse to compromise on the protections of civil rights and public safety," Brewer said. "I will defend this law, and I will not accept the notion border security is the responsibility of border states. I will continue to do everything in my power to protect our state, no apologies, no quitting, no retreat. … We're not going to continue to pick up the tab."
— Dave Perry