A little over two months ago, Arizona was one of the fastest growing states in the country and boasted a booming economy that was one of the nation’s leaders in employment and wage growth. Our economy has certainly slowed down, but there is still some good news such as TSMC announcing a chip factory in Arizona.
As we look at how the state responds to the COVID-19 crisis, it is important to remember that “Arizona’s Comeback” did not happen overnight. In fact, it started exactly ten years ago – at the bottom of the recession – with the passage of Proposition 100.
Yesterday marked ten years since the voters of Arizona passed Prop 100, the temporary three year one-cent sales tax, with 64.3% of the vote. Instead of slashing $3 billion from the budget, Governor Brewer and her team crafted a bold solution that contained a mix of cuts, borrowing, and temporary revenue to protect the two of the most important functions of the state – education and public safety.
As we look to recover from this latest crisis, Proposition 100 provides some helpful lessons for our current leaders:
First and foremost, we must protect our state’s core functions. Investing in education and public safety reaped significant benefits that we are still seeing ten years later. Protecting efforts such as the 20 by 2020 investment to increase teacher’s salaries will secure substantial rewards. Now is the time to invest in education to attract jobs and build our future workforce – we cannot afford to go backwards. And let’s face it, we cannot start any economy until kids go back to school, the very social fabric of the State is dependent upon our education system restarting.
The same goes for protecting our cities and towns. Municipal government is among the most liked and best regarded in the state. Ensuring the safety of its residents is the foremost function of all municipal government and funding public safety services often accounts for 50% or more of most local budgets. As revenues have plummeted in the past few months, it will be critically important to ensure our first responders have the resources they need.
Finally, this is an opportunity for our leaders to be bold and think creatively. Most importantly, they should keep all options on the table. Prop. 100 was the first time Governor Brewer ever supported a tax increase because she knew that cuts alone would devastate the state. Governor Ducey certainly didn’t want to shut down the economy, it went against every grain of his being but he did it to protect us, the citizens of Arizona. Likewise we must continue to keep all the options on the table as we begin to navigate our way out of this “unprecedented” crisis.
It is our hope that the state gets back to business soon and things start to get back to some type of new normal. We know that, in time, the state will recover and once again lead the nation in job and wage growth. The lessons of the past should be the guidance governing our future recovery. It worked last time, and will work again. #goarizona!