Business Legislative Preview

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Hear what business advocates would like to see from lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session. Glenn Hamer, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Farrell Quinlan, Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, will talk about the issue.

Ted Simons: The state's legislative session is set to begin next week, and we are spending much of this week hearing from advocates for a variety of issues. We begin tonight with what the business community hopes to see and hear from the legislative session. Joining us now is Glenn Hamer, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and industry, and Farrell Quinlan, Arizona State director for the national federation of independent business. Good to have you here and thanks for joining us.

Glenn Hamer: Great to be here.

Ted Simons: What does Arizona business want from this legislative session?

Glenn Hamer: Well, first, congratulations to all of our statewide office-holders. Today was a great day for the state, and I believe our new governor, Doug Ducey hit the right themes today in terms of what the business community wants. We want to be number one when it comes to job creation. We don't want to hear that Texas is number one or any other state. We want to be number one. We want to set the pace. We also want a world class education system, K-12 system available to all Arizonans, all Arizona kids regardless of income status. We recognize that there is budge challenges, to say the least, but we believe that if we grow our economy, and have a world class K-12 system, overtime, our state will be in terrific shape.

Ted Simons: I want to get back to that number one here in a second, but as far as independent business, what do you want to see from the legislature?

Farrell Quinlan: Well, I think a great component of what we're looking for is the what Governor Ducey spoke about in his speech today. He talked about opportunity for all. And I will re-align from his speech, opportunity is not a Government program planned and distributed by some expert class. Any more than personal freedom is a favor granted by those in public office. And later on in his speech he talks about avoiding placing the political sector, the head of the public interest, and I think that's what small businesses and my numbers were looking for at a government in Arizona and nationally for decades.

Ted Simons: Have you been getting that out of Arizona Government?

Farrell Quinlan: Yes and no. It is, of course, nothing is perfect. And there is certain areas that we want to see improved. We are very heartened by the fact that Governor Ducey has talked about there will not be tax increases on his watch. He's going to work for more efficient and more responsive Government when it comes to regulations and keeping Government as a partner or a helper for businesses to comply with regulations instead of a Hamer to punish them if they make a mistake.

Ted Simons: You mentioned you want to hear Arizona is number one, why isn't Arizona number one, two, or three?

Glenn Hamer: We're moving up the list. The good news, the last several years we've been a top ten state according to the chief executive magazine. To have someone of Governor Ducey's caliber, someone that has grown one of the greatest brands that have ever been created, in Arizona, Coldstone creamery, and that was a nice touch at today's inaugural festivities, to enjoy a Coldstone treat, to have someone of Doug Ducey's caliber being able to sell the state day in and day out and to have his team sell the state day in and day out, I believe will make a huge difference, and Ted, we were thrilled. His first executive order was to issue a regulatory, moratorium for all of his agencies. So, it was not just words today. Doug Ducey acted.

Ted Simons: But have regulations, have rules -- is that one of the reasons -- I mean, we're not growing as fast as Nevada, Colorado, California, and New Mexico, we're doing ok against them. Thank you from New Mexico, but we're not achieving what folks want to see achieved. Why is that? What's going on out there?

Glenn Hamer: The structure of the state is a heck of a lot healthier than California. There are not a lot of businesses that I'm aware of, whether they are small, medium or large saying let's look at California as a model. We've been making progress, but again, you know, to have a chief executive who is a business person, who understands Government from the four years as treasurer. Not once was Doug Ducey attacked for his work as treasurer. He's been a model public servant. He's been one of the state's most successful business people, and thus far we're extremely encouraged by what we see in terms of his actions and the team he's building out.

Ted Simons: As far as the small business, again, this recovery, we are not recovering at the same rate as the nation, and I know that California bashing is relatively easy to do and obvious, but by the same token, they are growing over there at a faster pace than we are. What can the legislature and the Governor do to step it up?

Farrell Quinlan: So much of what goes into growth is being able to predict about Government policy, tax policy, regulatory policy, and having Doug Ducey and the legislative leadership team that's being headed by David Gowen in the house and Biggs in the Senate, putting out an agenda that says that we're a welcoming state for small business development, for people to bring jobs to Arizona. Either through relocation or expansion, and I think that there is a, you know, there is a national problem with the economy. A lot of it has to do with policy coming out of D.C., and Arizona is, is going to take generations, but we're a very hyper-growth state when the country is growing. We grow faster in the country. But when the country is being sluggish, we can't get out of that first or second gear to gallop out ahead of the country like we do when things are growing across the nation, so the hope is that we're seeing good signs nationally about the economy, and hopefully, Arizona can take advantage of that when they know here in Arizona that our policies are sound and the leaders are committed to not pulling out the rug when things get a little choppy like they are with the budget.

Ted Simons: As far as the education, you mentioned education, and are Arizona students, are they ready to fill jobs that are available and will be available in Arizona?

Glenn Hamer: Well, we do have a very strong workforce, but, you know, over all, we need to improve the system. There are pockets of excellence. We are the only state in the country with three of the top ten public high schools out of 19,400 reviewed by U.S. news and world report. We have some of the great traditional public school systems. Mesa would come to mind. But there are also seas of areas where kids are not having access to world class education. And that's a problem. That's why, you know, I thought it was very encouraging that the Governor took a good chunk of the time for his inaugural address to say this stops now in terms of not all Arizonans being able to enjoy a world class education. He's not just going to say let's put dollars and hope for the best. That is a bad way to go about this. He's going to say let's focus on what works in the state and let's make sure that the resources go in that direction.

Ted Simons: When it comes to higher education, though, can you say let's cut dollars and hope for the best?

Farrell Quinlan: I think what the state Government is going to have to do is look at its priorities. If it's going to have something that can be put off, we have a budget situation that needs to be balanced. It's really important that we don't get out ahead of ourselves, out ahead of the revenues, so if higher education is an area that is being scrutinized, I think the entire state Government is going to be.

Ted Simons: If higher education is scrutinized, does that not affect us, for independent businesses, does that not affect the quality of the workers you will wind up getting?

Farrell Quinlan: I believe that if the money was the problem, in either education or health care, just pouring more money into it, which we've been doing for the past number of decades, would be the answer, and things would be improving. I think what we're seeing is that money may not be the only answer, just throwing more money at a problem may not be the most effective way, and maybe there are better ways of using the money that we're spending or even saving some money on breaking the mold in some ways. Some of the very innovative things in education having to do with choice in education, are cheaper and you get better outcomes for student achievement. It always has to be about student achievement, has to be about what kids are learning, not about how institutions are being funded.

Ted Simons: One of those molds is common core, and the Governor did campaign in a position that was not all that positive towards common core. We have a superintendent of public education who really is not positive about the common core. You like common core, and you think it's a good thing, don't you?

Glenn Hamer: We like high standards. And throughout the campaign, the Governor made clear that any sort of revisions would result in higher standards for Arizona, for Arizona's kids. We are going to support any effort that raises, that raises the bar. At the heart of his proposal, of the Governor's education proposal, is let's fund those institutions, those schools that have waiting lists. This is not -- I will just tell you for me, personally, Ted, this is not something that is theoretical, you know. My five-year-old is in school, she won the lottery. I have a very good friend whose daughter was not quite as lucky. I think that the Governor really focusing on those institutions that Arizona's parents want to send their kids to, is a very meaty and worthwhile endeavor.

Ted Simons: As far as social impacts, social issues impacting Arizona, how much do those things, the 1062s and 1070s of the world impact independent business overall in terms of attracting and retaining?

Farrell Quinlan: I think a lot of those are hyped up by the media, and they -- it's interesting how we then complain about us having a -- Arizona having some sort of an image problem when the media is hyping things that are decisive. I think what Arizona needs to firmly establish is that not only are we open for business, but that when you want to open a business, when you want to succeed, when you want to employ people, that we are here to help you, that the state is here to help you not to be a boot on the neck trying to keep you down or trying to find the little thing that they can hit you with a fine or a citation for. They are here to help you succeed, not in a way that's like a subsidy but in a way that you know how best to run your business. Just make sure you stay within the guidelines, and go out and be successful. That's all that small businesses want. Government to leave them alone so they can do what they do best.

Ted Simons: We have to stop it there. Good to have you both here and thanks for joining us.

Ted Simons: Tuesday on Arizona Horizon, find out what environmentalists want to see from lawmakers in the upcoming session, and hear about a unique funding program for arts projects in Arizona. That's on the next Arizona Horizon. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: Arizona Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Glenn Hamer:President and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Farrell Quinlan:Arizona State Director, National Federation of Independent Business;

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