Tag Archives: Gov. Jan Brewer

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The 2013 Hammer Awards

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; time to hand out some virtual hardware to the winners of the 4th annual Hammer Awards, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer’s look back at the wild and the wacky of the year in politics and anything else that’s on his mind.

State Leader of the Year: Gov. Jan Brewer

This one was a runaway. Not even close. The governor at the outset of the 2013 legislative session took on a set of issues that would make most elected officials wilt: Medicaid restoration and sales tax reform. She spearheaded highly effective campaigns on both issues, stood strong against a motivated opposition, and won the day in each case. Her accomplishments as governor are too numerous to mention, but she outdid herself this year, adding to her profoundly positive record for the state’s business environment for which the state will reap rewards for years to come. She’s building a legacy that will be tough to match.

National Politician of the Year: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Are you a Republican interested in running for statewide or national office? Take a lesson from two-time Hammer Award winner Gov. Chris Christie. The governor worked hard in his first term to burnish his image as pragmatic problem solver, and it paid off in 2013 when he won re-election in a route. Buoyed by a bevy of must-see YouTube videos, Gov. Christie made deep inroads into segments of the electorate that have been leaving the GOP in droves. I have no idea whether a Christie presidential campaign in 2016 will be a winning one, but his opponents underestimate him at their own peril.

Legislators of the Year: Reps. Debbie Lesko and Heather Carter

Some legislators get drafted into a fight, others volunteer. Rep. Debbie Lesko and Rep. Heather Carter volunteered to champion the year’s most contentious policy issues, and for that they each win a Hammer.

Rep. Lesko expertly navigated the thorny issues surrounding the reform of the state’s byzantine sales tax system in the face of an opposition that was perfectly willing to run out the clock on the legislative session and stick with the status quo. Rep. Lesko teamed with the governor’s tax guru, Michael Hunter, and refused to the let the session end without real reform.

Courage is an overused term in politics, but Rep. Carter has it in spades, as demonstrated by standing shoulder to shoulder with Gov. Brewer in her campaign to restore the Proposition 204 AHCCCS population. Rep. Carter didn’t waiver and remained committed in her belief that backing the governor’s plan was the right move. She was right on the policy, and I’m confident she’ll be proven right on the politics.

Rising Star of the Year: Adam Deguire

Rep. Matt Salmon’s Chief of Staff Adam Deguire has quietly become a mover and shaker in western politics. The Brophy grad has hit his stride as Rep. Salmon’s top aide after guiding Salmon’s return to Congress in the 2012 elections. Adam has done stints at the Republican National Committee as a field rep, was a senior level campaign and transition team aide to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez in her 2010 run, and led the Hawaii GOP as its executive director. I always think it’s risky for a Hill office staff not to have ties back to the home state. Having Adam lead the staff and earn the frequent flyer miles between Phoenix and D.C. is a great move by Rep. Salmon, who will be well served by Adam’s commitment and loyalty.

Fighting the Good Fight: Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake

I’m in the camp that firmly believes that we’re going to see a true immigration reform package land on the president’s desk in 2014. (For those keeping score, I was also confident that we were going to get a deal in 2013, but who knew that a government shutdown and an amateur hour website were going to crowd out every other issue.) But as we sit here on the cusp of a transformative shot of adrenaline for the American economy, let’s give a Hammer where a Hammer is due. We would not have gotten this far were it not for Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake. Arizona is incredibly fortunate to have these men representing us in the world’s greatest deliberative body.

The Great Communicator: Matt Benson

Gov. Brewer has an outstanding team, including a few members who have won Hammers over the years. This year the governor’s former press secretary, Matt Benson, takes the honors for his outstanding work as the 9th Floor’s flack.

Issues like Medicaid restoration and TPT reform were incredibly complicated and they required their own public relations campaigns, but Matt communicated the governor’s positions on these and a host of other issues and acted as a liaison between the governor and her supporters, all while making it look easy. I should also note that there is no such thing as a day off for a gubernatorial press secretary, and Matt deserves a shout out for taking incoming fire from the fourth estate while he and his wife are still navigating the toddler years. Matt’s new firm, Veridus, is lucky to have this Hammer winner on board.

I Miss You, Man Award: David Cavazos

Phoenix is the best run big city in America. That’s in large part due to the dynamic Mayor Greg Stanton and a city council of professionals. But Phoenix this year bade farewell to its terrific city manager, David Cavazos. David was able to move effectively between different political factions in order to do what was right for the city. Having led efforts that ranged from attracting new investment to downtown Phoenix to spearheading trade missions to Mexico, he leaves big shoes to fill here. I don’t envy the search committee on this one.

A testament to David and Phoenix’s work is the appointment of Ed Zuercher as acting city manager. David left a great team behind as evidenced by Ed, a consummate professional, stepping into the top job.

An Apple a Day Award: Sandra Watson

I continue to be impressed by Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson’s talents. She’s taken the economic development toolbox assembled by the governor and Legislature and built something significant here. Constructing the deal that brought Apple to Mesa was a master stroke.

I can tell you from having traveled to Taiwan with the governor right after the deal was announced that bringing one of the most recognized brands to Arizona was a worldwide story. I did not expect dozens of Taiwanese reporters and businesspeople to pepper our delegation with questions about what makes Arizona so attractive to high-tech manufacturers. Sandra’s work is rippling around the glove, and for that she deserves a Hammer.

The Youngest Elder Statesman Award: Jaime Molera

The business community in 2013 rallied around Gov. Brewer’s health care restoration plan, but the campaign didn’t start to gel until Jaime Molera took on the role of a sort of campaign chairman. Jaime had the credibility and talent to bring together a host of lobbyists from across the health care and business community and assemble a dynamite team of political operatives to get the deal done. I hesitate to call a young man like Jaime an elder statesman, but the results leave little doubt that he was the right man for the job. Arizona owes a debt of gratitude to Jaime for stepping into the breach.

I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the work of Anne DeGraw, Jaime’s colleague at the firm of Molera-Alvarez, and Brittney Kauffman at the Arizona Chamber, both of whom ran the statewide campaign’s day-to-day affairs. Though he didn’t need it, they made Jaime look good.

The Mariano Rivera Best Closer Award: Jim Norton

On the last night of a legislative session, you can practically hear “Enter Sandman” echoing throughout the Capitol. This is the time that Chamber lobbyist and R&R Partners big shot Jim Norton shines.  When it comes to closing a deal, he’s the Mariano Rivera of lobbyists. He’s the best in the business, and I am incredibly fortunate not only to have him as the Chamber’s advocate at the Capitol, but to call him a friend.

He’s also a pretty good dancer. Give the man a Hammer.

The Legislative Branch Foreign Service Award: Speaker Andy Tobin and
his Mexico City trade delegation

Arizona in very recent history has had its share of missteps when it comes to our relationship with Mexico, which is why Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin and the seven legislators who traveled to Mexico City with him this year all deserve Hammers for hitting the reset button south of the border.

The speaker was joined by Rep. Tom Forese, Rep. Catherine Miranda, Rep. T.J. Shope, Rep. Karen Fann, Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla and Rep. Lydia Hernandez. The bipartisan delegation was received warmly by everyone we met from Mexico’s executive and legislative branches, with everyone appreciating the genuine effort made by the bipartisan Arizona delegation to make clear that we view the Arizona-Mexico relationship as a special one characterized by friendship and trust.

Also deserving recognition are Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who led their own delegation to Mexico City this year. Both the mayors’ and the speaker’s trips drove home the potential benefits that could be gained by putting down deeper roots and elevating our presence in Mexico’s political and financial capital.

The Next Great Buddy Cop Tandem: Luis Gonzalez and me

I had the pleasure earlier this year of traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico with a delegation led by Mayor Stanton. As a big baseball fan, I was thrilled when I found out Luis Gonzalez was joining our group as a representative of the Diamondbacks.

By the time trip was over, I had been able to give Luis my keen insights on the improper use of closers, the proper execution of a suicide squeeze play, hidden ball tricks and when to pitch out against left-handed batters. I got the feeling there was some real chemistry there, the kind that a Hollywood screenwriter might want to tap into for the next buddy cop hit. I sense box office gold.

Most Versatile Player Award: Steve Macias

One of the reasons I love my job is because I get to work with an absolutely first class board of directors. The boards of the Chamber and the Arizona Manufacturers Council are comprised of some of the most outstanding leaders in their industries across the state.

One of these leaders is Steve Macias, the chairman of the AMC. Steve is the consummate champion for manufacturing in Arizona. As the president of Pivot Manufacturing, Steve knows the shop floor firsthand, which makes him such an effective advocate for this critical sector of Arizona’s economy.

Steve does it all for the Chamber. In addition to chairing the AMC, he’s always willing to serve as a master of ceremonies or moderator, and he’s an outstanding writer, providing insight through his occasional Made in Arizona columns. And the guy’s got a biting wit. He deserves a Hammer.

The Milton Friedman Rock Star of the Year Award: Bono

U2 frontman Bono has long been a champion of foreign and charitable aid to Africa as a means to alleviate poverty across the continent.  But in a speech at Georgetown this year, he said, “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

Bono, your Chamber membership form and PAC solicitation are in the mail along with your Hammer.

Book of the Year: Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution
 
Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush and Goldwater Institute legal beagle Clint Bolick win the Hammer for their book Immigration Wars.

The book is an excellent piece of work, full of real, actionable solutions on the immigration front that could find themselves into the House’s immigration package.

Citizen Advocates of the Year: Linda Stanfield and Craig Barrett

One of them owns a plumbing franchise; the other is the former CEO of one of the world’s most respected tech companies. But both of them win a Hammer for stepping into the arena of public advocacy.

Linda Stanfield runs Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Arizona. She was the public face for TPT reform this year, testifying in committee hearings, appearing in campaign videos and standing alongside the governor at press conferences and, deservedly, at bill signing ceremonies. We need more Linda the Plumbers shaping policy in Arizona.

Craig Barrett heads Gov. Brewer’s Arizona Ready Education Council. He’s also the former CEO of Intel. If he wanted to, he could spend his days on a beach sipping mai tais, but instead he’s devoting his energy to ensuring that Arizona has an absolutely world-class education system, with high standards and expectations, accountable principals and teachers, engaged parents and students ready to learn.

Supreme Court Decision of the Year: Campaign contribution limits (award accepted by Rep. J.D. Mesnard)

Since it might seem unseemly to bestow state Supreme Court justices with the acclaim and notoriety that comes with a highly valued Hammer award, I’ll recognize state Rep. J.D. Mesnard, the architect of legislation that ushered in the modern era of political free speech in Arizona in a law recently upheld by the state’s highest court.

Also deserving recognition are attorney Mike Liburdi, who successfully argued in favor of the new contribution limits and Andy Gordon who, on behalf of the business community, filed an amicus brief that argued for the removal of aggregate limits on a candidate’s ability to accept PAC donations. Hammers all around!

Chairman of the Board: Rep. Tom Forese

Who needs a Hammer when you’ve got a gavel? Give Rep. Tom Forese a Hammer Award for expertly using his position as state House Commerce Committee chairman to hold informational hearings on topics that matter for Arizona’s economy. I was able to participate in his hearing on the state’s aerospace industry and the mining industry this year, and both were filled with outstanding content. There are true industry leaders in Arizona, and Rep. Forese deserves kudos for urging them share their knowledge with lawmakers.

From all of us at the Arizona Chamber, we wish you all the best this holiday season and in 2014.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.

BORDER GOVERNORS

Brewer earns less than most governors

Besides having one of the lowest governor’s salaries in the nation, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer also makes less than almost all of the state’s top administrative officials, according to a recent report.

Brewer’s $95,000 annual salary was less than that of 44 other governors in 2013 and was topped by 37 Arizona administrators out of 44 included in an April survey by the Council of State Governments.

The top Arizona salaries in the report went to state officials who direct higher education and commerce departments, each of whom made $300,000, the survey said.

But governors across the country consistently make less than the bureaucrats who reported to them, according to the data, which came as no surprise to experts.

“We don’t pay our elected officials a lot. Period,” said Ruth Jones, a professor at the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University.

And the author of the survey said the salary is not why governors run for the office, either.

“You don’t want to be governor just to make a lot of money,” said Audrey Wall, the managing editor of the Council of State Governments. “That’s not what your goal is if you’re running for that office.”

Wall said there is no single reason why governors make such little money relative to administrators.

The recession played a big role. But while Wall said that states “are on the road to recovery,” governors’ salaries will not rebound as quickly as those in the private sector.

“States have a tendency sometimes to move a little slower,” she said.

Wall said many governors do not receive pay raises because citizens don’t want to see their governors receiving huge CEO salaries.

“Governors are even more closely linked to the electorate, to the people,” Wall said.

Among governors, Brewer made more than only those in Arkansas, Maine, Oregon, Colorado and Alabama in 2013.

Among top officials in her own state, Brewer’s salary was higher than only the secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, and administrators in public library development, employment services and education.

A state administrator’s pay in Arizona should not be compared to a comparable bureaucrat in another state, Wall said, because the structure of the state governments might be different. The official overseeing border security in Arizona, for example, might have more responsibilities than an official with the same job in Nebraska. That could account for a difference in state administrators’ pay, she said.

But Jones said the governor’s salary should not be compared to state administrator salaries at all. They are two different types of jobs, she said: One is an elected office and many of the others, like the administrator for higher education, are not.

Jones noted that Brewer receives other perks with her job. Governors get free transportation and probably don’t have to pay for many meals, she said. The biggest perk is the power and influence that comes with being governor.

Jones said she knows many people who say the state should not be giving more money to the governor. State voters and legislators are weary of raising the governor’s pay, Jones said, adding that, “it’s not good politics to raise your own pay.”

Brewer’s office did not return calls seeking comment on the report.

Wall said it is hard to predict if Brewer’s pay will be raised anytime soon. A lot has to do with politics and whether or not it’s an election year.

With or without a raise, Jones said the state is getting its money’s worth from whomever is in the governor’s office.

“It’s a hard job. It’s not an easy job,” she said. “It isn’t paid with what the job demands.”

Sandra Watson

Sandra Watson – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Sandra Watson – President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority

Watson has more than 20 years of economic development leadership and experience. She and her teams have attracted hundreds of companies to Arizona that have invested billions of dollars in capital and created more than 65,000 quality jobs.

Surprising fact: “My career in economic development began in Canada. When my family and I moved to Arizona, I continued economic development work with the City of Chandler and then the state of Arizona.”

Biggest challenge: “Economic development during the recession was extremely challenging. Working with Gov. Brewer and our elected leadership to create the Arizona Commerce Authority and lay the foundation for a more sustainable economy has been incredibly rewarding and is already paying dividends through quality job creation for Arizonans.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

97995886

Arizona law on picking judges challenged

A lawsuit filed on behalf of members of a state judicial nominating commission challenges a new state law changing how Arizona selects judges for its appellate courts.

The Arizona Republic reports that the lawsuit filed Friday says the law is unconstitutional because it effectively would change part of the Arizona Constitution without submitting a proposed amendment to voters.

The law being challenged increases the minimum number of nominees for each vacancy to five from three, the current constitutional requirement.

The Legislature approved the legislation in April, and Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law.

Republican Rep. Justin Piece of Mesa sponsored the legislation. He says it is constitutional because the commission still can nominate fewer than five candidates to the governor if there’s a two-thirds vote to do that.

Jan Brewer - 50 Most Influential Womenin AZ Business

Jan Brewer – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Jan BrewerGovernor, State of Arizona

Brewer became Arizona’s 22nd governor in 2009, inheriting the worst budget deficit in the country. Through her support of free-market principles, competitive taxes, lean regulations and a ready workforce, she has transformed Arizona into one of the most business-friendly states in the nation.

Surprising fact: “I’m a gardener at heart. You need the right seeds, plus water and sunshine. And you have to run off the rabbits. Sounds a little like the Legislature, right?”

Biggest challenge: “Balancing my family and home life with a career in public service. While this issue can never be truly ‘overcome,’ it’s one I manage day-by-day, guided by my love of family and the people I serve.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

Brewer

Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan secured

Arizona lawmakers have endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state’s Republican leadership.

The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature.

She secured her victory Thursday after lawmakers passed Brewer’s $8.8 billion state budget that included the Medicaid expansion provided under a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature’s Republican leadership called it “Chicago politics” and labeled Brewer a puppet master, but Brewer remained undeterred as she prepared to sign the measures into state law.

“The day has been a red-letter day for the people of Arizona,” Brewer told reporters after the budget votes Thursday. “It was a win, win, win all the way around.”

Brewer, an early critic of the Affordable Care Act, surprised the nation when she acknowledged the Medicaid expansion as the law of the land in her State of the State address in January. She noted that rejecting an expansion would mean Arizona taxpayers would subsidize care for those in other states while receiving no benefits themselves.

The expansion is expected to help reduce the amount of uncompensated care hospitals must absorb and help cut what Brewer called a hidden health care tax that people who buy insurance pay, through higher premiums, to cover others’ care.

After the Legislature secured her political win, Brewer softened her support for the health care law.

“Medicaid was here long before Obama health care. I have never liked Obama health care,” she told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with Obama health care.”

The expansion is optional under last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

In all, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., are moving ahead with the expansion, while 15 states have turned it down. Another 12 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent over the longer haul. It’s estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.

In Arizona, Republican leaders in the Legislature called the expansion a massive government overreach that would drive the federal government deeper into debt. They predicted the government promises of paying for the expansion would turn out to be false.

“This is the biggest mistake we’ve made in the Arizona Legislature this year and maybe ever,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City.

Republicans control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices in Arizona, but the Medicaid fight highlighted internal fractures between those who want smaller government and others who, like Brewer, who said broader health care access is good for the state.

“The bottom line here is greed,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who is running for governor and voted against the Medicaid expansion. “The people who want this know in their hearts that Obamacare is going to collapse under its own weight.”

A newly formed coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked closely with Brewer to stand up to the conservative leaders who had blocked debate on the Medicaid expansion for six months. Lawmakers worked through the night Wednesday to get the plan through the House, and the Senate vote came hours later Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen the case where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, of Gilbert.

Senate President Andy Biggs said lawmakers had little information about what was in the budget before passing it.

“I am deeply and profoundly disappointed at the manner at which this came down,” he said.

Brewer dismissed the insults, predicting that all would be forgiven and Republican leaders would move forward together.

“Tomorrow they’ll probably say ‘I’m sorry’ or we will just forget it,” she said. “I just try to listen and let it go.”

It was a year of wins and losses for Arizona’s GOP.

The Legislature voted to adjourn its 2013 session early Friday morning after passing a slew of other bills, including an election overhaul that could make it more difficult for voters to obtain and return mail ballots. Biggs had to beg for extra votes to get the measure opposed by Democrats and voter outreach groups passed in the Senate.

Among the bills left on the floor was a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinics from using Medicaid dollars to fund administrative costs and allowed for unannounced inspections, a top GOP priority.

Still, Brewer signed more than 100 bills advanced by conservative Republicans throughout the marathon session, including a measure that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold. She also signed bills that will wildly increase campaign finance limits for state candidates and require unemployed workers to present documents showing they were fired before they can receive benefits.

Through it all, Brewer made it clear that the Medicaid expansion was her top priority. She held multiple rallies featuring low-income patients on the Arizona Capitol lawn and during the final month of the session, Brewer refused to sign any other bills until lawmakers passed a budget that included the health care expansion.

The Medicaid plan would cover people making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level and restore coverage to more than 100,000 childless adults who lost Medicaid coverage because of a state budget crunch. About 1.3 million Arizonans already are covered by the state’s plan.

Brewer

Brewer's Medicaid expansion plan secured

Arizona lawmakers have endorsed a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law in a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, after a lengthy fight over Medicaid expansion that divided the state’s Republican leadership.

The expansion that will extend health care to 300,000 more low-income Arizonans came after months of stalled negotiations, tense debates and political maneuvering as Brewer pushed the Medicaid proposal through a hostile Legislature.

She secured her victory Thursday after lawmakers passed Brewer’s $8.8 billion state budget that included the Medicaid expansion provided under a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature’s Republican leadership called it “Chicago politics” and labeled Brewer a puppet master, but Brewer remained undeterred as she prepared to sign the measures into state law.

“The day has been a red-letter day for the people of Arizona,” Brewer told reporters after the budget votes Thursday. “It was a win, win, win all the way around.”

Brewer, an early critic of the Affordable Care Act, surprised the nation when she acknowledged the Medicaid expansion as the law of the land in her State of the State address in January. She noted that rejecting an expansion would mean Arizona taxpayers would subsidize care for those in other states while receiving no benefits themselves.

The expansion is expected to help reduce the amount of uncompensated care hospitals must absorb and help cut what Brewer called a hidden health care tax that people who buy insurance pay, through higher premiums, to cover others’ care.

After the Legislature secured her political win, Brewer softened her support for the health care law.

“Medicaid was here long before Obama health care. I have never liked Obama health care,” she told reporters after the vote. “It has nothing to do with Obama health care.”

The expansion is optional under last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

In all, 23 states plus Washington, D.C., are moving ahead with the expansion, while 15 states have turned it down. Another 12 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats.

Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years and 90 percent over the longer haul. It’s estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.

In Arizona, Republican leaders in the Legislature called the expansion a massive government overreach that would drive the federal government deeper into debt. They predicted the government promises of paying for the expansion would turn out to be false.

“This is the biggest mistake we’ve made in the Arizona Legislature this year and maybe ever,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, of Lake Havasu City.

Republicans control the Legislature and all statewide elected offices in Arizona, but the Medicaid fight highlighted internal fractures between those who want smaller government and others who, like Brewer, who said broader health care access is good for the state.

“The bottom line here is greed,” said Sen. Al Melvin, a Tucson Republican who is running for governor and voted against the Medicaid expansion. “The people who want this know in their hearts that Obamacare is going to collapse under its own weight.”

A newly formed coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked closely with Brewer to stand up to the conservative leaders who had blocked debate on the Medicaid expansion for six months. Lawmakers worked through the night Wednesday to get the plan through the House, and the Senate vote came hours later Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen the case where a governor has rolled over her own party because she was throwing a temper tantrum,” said Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, of Gilbert.

Senate President Andy Biggs said lawmakers had little information about what was in the budget before passing it.

“I am deeply and profoundly disappointed at the manner at which this came down,” he said.

Brewer dismissed the insults, predicting that all would be forgiven and Republican leaders would move forward together.

“Tomorrow they’ll probably say ‘I’m sorry’ or we will just forget it,” she said. “I just try to listen and let it go.”

It was a year of wins and losses for Arizona’s GOP.

The Legislature voted to adjourn its 2013 session early Friday morning after passing a slew of other bills, including an election overhaul that could make it more difficult for voters to obtain and return mail ballots. Biggs had to beg for extra votes to get the measure opposed by Democrats and voter outreach groups passed in the Senate.

Among the bills left on the floor was a proposal that would have prohibited abortion clinics from using Medicaid dollars to fund administrative costs and allowed for unannounced inspections, a top GOP priority.

Still, Brewer signed more than 100 bills advanced by conservative Republicans throughout the marathon session, including a measure that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold. She also signed bills that will wildly increase campaign finance limits for state candidates and require unemployed workers to present documents showing they were fired before they can receive benefits.

Through it all, Brewer made it clear that the Medicaid expansion was her top priority. She held multiple rallies featuring low-income patients on the Arizona Capitol lawn and during the final month of the session, Brewer refused to sign any other bills until lawmakers passed a budget that included the health care expansion.

The Medicaid plan would cover people making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level and restore coverage to more than 100,000 childless adults who lost Medicaid coverage because of a state budget crunch. About 1.3 million Arizonans already are covered by the state’s plan.

BORDER GOVERNORS

Brewer signs photo radar bill

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill requiring state transportation officials to confirm there’s a legitimate safety need before they allow cities to put photo enforcement cameras on state highways.

A Senate amendment to House Bill 2477 passed by the Legislature softened a requirement that cities show photo enforcement has improved safety if they want to renew their state permits every three years. The bill Brewer signed into law Wednesday allows non-renewal only if it can’t be shown the cameras are maintaining a “positive impact” on public safety.

Eight cities and towns now use photo radar on stretches of state highways, and Casa Grande and Sierra Vista are working with the Arizona Department of Transportation to add them.

medical.research

Medical miracle girl raises funds for TGen

Shelby Valint, the 12-year-old Phoenix girl whose sequenced genome led her from a wheelchair to walking, is raising funds for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The “Shelby Valint Inspiration Fundraiser” will generate needed research dollars for TGen’s Center for Rare Childhood Disorders (C4RCD). It was research through this innovative unit at TGen that helped enable Shelby to go from a wheelchair to walking.

“TGen has done so much for me,” Shelby said. “Now, I want to do something for TGen so they can continue to help other children like me with rare medical disorders.”

The fundraiser is being organized by Shelby’s mother, Renee Valint, and by one of Shelby’s 7th Grade teachers, Tracy Livingston, whose husband – the Honorable Rep. David Livingston – is a freshman member of the Arizona House of Representatives, representing the north Valley’s District 22.

“In October, TGen launched their Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, which is helping parents in Arizona find answers and treatment for their children,” said Rep. Livingston, who has invited Gov. Jan Brewer and members of the Arizona Legislature to the fundraiser at the home of Shelby’s parents, Renee and Scott Valint – 1-5 p.m. April 6 at 1517 E. Red Range Way, about a mile south of Carefree Highway, just east of 14th Street.

“In my recent tour of TGen’s facilities, I saw first-hand the cutting-edge research, tools and technology being used to help children like Shelby,” Rep. Livingston said. “My wife, Tracy … has personally seen Shelby’s amazing transformation.”

By sequencing, or spelling out, the nearly 3 billion letters in Shelby’s DNA, TGen researchers found a gene that prevented Shelby from producing sufficient amounts of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is needed for balance and muscle control.

Using a combination of drugs usually given to older persons for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Shelby was able within several weeks to abandon her wheelchair. She was able to more easily walk, talk, eat and even breathe, generally restoring her to a normal functioning child.

“Before TGen’s discovery, we had been through an enormous amount of despair with all the doctor visits and tests, and I had watched helplessly as Shelby was poked and prodded with a heart-wrenching number of needles and IVs,” Renee Valint said. “Shelby’s newfound ability to walk and talk, and generally lead a normal life, is a testament to the unwavering dedication to helping patients exhibited by the scientists at TGen.”

To see Shelby’s amazing transformation from a girl who was unable to walk, talk and eat to a girl who dances across the room, watch this recent story from CBS 5 News.

 

Jan Brewer

Brewer, GM announce Chandler Innovation Center

Michigan-based General Motors (GM), together with Governor Jan Brewer, Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), announced today GM has selected Chandler as the site of its fourth Information Technology Innovation Center.  These IT Innovation Centers enable GM to in-source the company’s innovation capabilities, strengthening its global competitiveness.

With the announcement, GM expects to invest $21 million in the new Chandler facility and hire 1,000 high-wage employees over the next five years.

“GM could have chosen to locate this premier facility anywhere in the country, so it is a tremendous credit to our state and everything we have to offer that GM has decided to build right here in Arizona,” said Governor Jan Brewer.  “Today’s announcement speaks volumes about the business-friendly environment we have created in Arizona, including our high-tech workforce, competitive tax policies and lean regulations. I could not be prouder of our state or what this announcement means for the future of the Arizona economy.”

With today’s GM announcement, Chandler joins previously disclosed locations for Innovation Centers in Warren, Mich., Austin, Texas, and Roswell, Georgia.

“The greater Phoenix area is a fantastic hub of emerging technical talent – from university graduates to working professionals. GM needs these kinds of world-class and skilled employees to be as successful as we want to be,” said GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott.  “Chandler is the perfect addition to our overall Innovation Center market strategy, locating in great communities that are on the leading edge of innovation and technology.”

GM’s IT Innovation Centers are part of a companywide transformation to improve performance, reduce the cost of on-going operations and increase its delivery of innovation.

“This is exactly the type of technology employer we need in Chandler and in our state,” said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “The GM Innovation Center is a perfect complement to Chandler’s Price Corridor, and furthers the City’s reputation as a regional hub for innovation and high-tech businesses.”

GM will begin recruiting and hiring software developers, database administrators and system analysts immediately.  The new Innovation Center is expected to be operational by first quarter 2014. Interested candidates can apply for positions at http://jobs.gm.com/.

“We are thrilled with GM’s selection of Arizona and its significant increased investment in our community.  The company’s long-term commitment grows and strengthens our economy in the form of quality jobs, high wages and capital investment, building on the technology and economic base in our state,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority.  “It has been wonderful working with GM’s team throughout this process, and we look forward to a continued successful partnership for many years to come.”

“General Motors could not have found a better innovation partner than the City of Chandler, which has worked hard to earn its well-deserved status as one of the western U.S.’s top technology cities,” said GPEC President and CEO Barry Broome. “GM’s investment is testament to our skilled workforce and quality lifestyle, as well as competitive and uncomplicated business landscape. Indeed, today’s announcement is a win for the entire region, and we look forward to developing a lasting partnership with General Motors.”

Stealth Software CEO Gerard Warrens.

Software firm picks Valley as U.S. HQ

Stealth Software CEO Gerard Warrens announced Tuesday that the Netherlands-based company will locate its United States headquarters in Arizona, which the company selected over Austin, New York and Silicon Valley.

The software development and marketing company based in Luxembourg announced plans to open its U.S. headquarters and hire 200 people in metropolitan Phoenix.

Warrens said Tuesday that the privately owned company will pick a city within two to four weeks where it will locate its new office.

Warrens says the company considered Austin, New York and Silicon Valley, but picked Arizona because it offered a competitive business environment and a skilled workforce.

The firm is looking to hire software developers, sales people and others.

It also wants to do work in the bioscience, aerospace and defense sectors and collaborate in research projects with universities across Arizona.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says the announcement is a sign that Arizona’s business environment is becoming more competitive.

Jan Brewer

Brewer rolls out sales tax reform plan

Gov. Jan Brewer is expected to announce details of her proposal for a comprehensive simplification of the Arizona’s sales tax collection system at a press conference Monday.

Brewer says the current system has so many twists and turns it is extremely difficult for businesses to pay what they owe. She says business owners serving multiple cities must file multiple tax returns and undergo multiple audits. She’s said she wants a system that has just one form and one filing per business.

Cities and towns have objected to one part of the proposal that would change how sales tax on new construction is collected. They say that will hurt growing cities by sending the taxes elsewhere.

Brewer plans to announce the introduction of legislation designed to implement her plan.

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An open letter to Phil Mickelson

Dear Phil,

I read your recent comments about the crushing tax burden California has imposed on wage earners like yourself. You said that you might even move out of California. Allow me to suggest Arizona – your former home – as your next home.

Though my time playing golf is usually limited to courses where I try to hit the ball into a miniature windmill, you and I have a lot in common. We’re both left-handers. We’re both Arizona State grads, you with a Bachelor’s, me from the law school. You’re a member of the ASU athletics Hall of Fame. I enjoy watching ASU sports.

More importantly, though, we both understand the impact high taxes have on a state’s economy and its hard working residents. A high-tax environment drives capital and people out of state, which explains why California is currently experiencing an unprecedented exodus of wealth.

It’s apparent you’re not alone in your high-tax sentiments. Even your sometimes rival on the golf course, Tiger Woods, said California’s high-tax environment is why he left the state for Florida.

California’s current top income tax rate of 13.3 percent is a good enough reason to pack up one’s clubs and move on.

Sure, California has sandy beaches and sunshine, but that doesn’t dull the sting of paying out nearly half your income in total taxes. It’s hard to enjoy the ocean when you’re watching your hard earned money float out to sea.

Arizona has sunshine and sand (traps), too. And while California has been pursuing a flawed economic strategy, we’ve been making all the right moves.

Over the past two years, Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature have worked hard to make Arizona a state that is known for job growth and creation. They’ve decreased the corporate income tax rate, lowered the tax on business property and equipment, cut taxes on investment income and have made Arizona’s tax code more attractive to businesses selling goods and services outside our borders.  While California was raising its taxes (again), our voters rejected a massive permanent tax hike. We’ve also balanced our budget.

The per-capita income going to taxes in Arizona is just 8.7 percent, compared to the national average of 9.8 percent and California’s burden of 11.8 percent. That leaves more money for vacations to your favorite beaches (including those in California) or for purchasing a Major League Baseball team.

We’ve also cut back on unnecessary regulations, freeing up businesses to expand without the worry of frivolous government interference.  You can’t even go into a Starbucks in California without a Proposition 65 warning of the dangers of coffee.

All of these efforts have resulted in Arizona’s move up the leaderboard.  Arizona received the title of number one state for entrepreneurial activity in 2011 and was ranked a Top-10 state for business in 2012. We also ranked second – just behind North Dakota – for states with the best job-growth forecast.

I’ll put this all in terms you can appreciate:  If Arizona competed in The Masters of economic competitiveness, we’d end up with the coveted green jacket.

Phil, you know better than anyone that you can’t beat the golf here. You’re already a crowd favorite come Waste Management Phoenix Open time. So go pack your clubs and call the movers.

Just don’t take too long. I could really use some tips on my swing.

Sincerely,

Glenn

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. 

Brewer

Brewer appoints leader of utility agency

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has appointed a former electric utility executive to serve as the new leader of a state agency that advocates for consumers on electric, gas, phone, water and telecommunication issues.

Patrick Quinn will take over as director of the Arizona Residential Utility Consumer Office on Monday.

Quinn replaces outgoing director Jodi Jerich.

Quinn served as president of Qwest Arizona from 2002-2008 and held several other positions at the company dating back to 1977.

He has been president of a business and political consulting firm since 2008.

Hamer - June 2011-fornewsletter

The 2012 Hammer Awards

It’s that time of year to hand out some honors for the year’s best. So it is without further ado that I bring you the Third Annual Hammer Awards.
Impact Player of the Year: State Treasurer Doug Ducey
The keeper of the state’s checkbook took down Proposition 204 in a rout, and for that Doug Ducey wins a Hammer. Before he arrived on the scene, the tax measure was poised to coast to victory with no opposition. Ducey rallied opponents to make a clear case to voters why Arizona could do better by its education system than to saddle the state with a permanent tax increase that wouldn’t advance proven reforms. Ducey hit the exacta when Proposition 118, which would help create a more reliable funding stream into the K-12 system, also passed.
Best Public Policy Effort of the Year: (tie) Personnel Reform and Competitiveness Package 2.0
Two major policy efforts in 2012 deserve Hammers.
Gov. Jan Brewer and the Legislature, led by Senate President Steve Pierce and House Speaker Andy Tobin, were firing on all cylinders in 2012 with their passage of a sweeping personnel reform package that injects a new and much needed level of accountability and professionalism into the state’s employment system. Newly appointed Brewer chief of staff Scott Smith deserves kudos for shepherding the package through the Legislature with the help of two of  the state House ’s brightest rising stars, Justin Olson and Justin Pierce.
As if that weren’t enough, though, the governor and Legislature also passed a major economic competitiveness package in 2012 that built on the gains passed in 2011. Who says you can’t have back-to-back once-in-a-generation job creation bills? This year’s wins included the state’s first ever reduction in the tax on investment income (capital gains), and it now makes Arizona more attractive from a tax standpoint to service providers who sell their services beyond the state’s borders, bringing the service sector into alignment with manufacturers. Gov. Brewer’s lead policy adviser and tax guru Michael Hunter, state Rep. J.D. Mesnard, who was honored as the Arizona Chamber’s Representative of the Year, and Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson all deserve a Hammer for a job well done.
Comeback Player of the Year: Matt Salmon
The Hammer goes to former and now Congressman-once-again Matt Salmon for his return to the U.S. House 12 years after he stayed faithful to his term limits pledge that he made when he was a member of the class of 1994. As someone who had the honor of spending a good chunk of his professional life working for Matt, the East Valley will be well served by its incoming congressman who, by having served three terms in the 1990s, brings to his job a perspective (and seniority) few have.
Expect Big Things: Steve Chucri
Maricopa County Supervisor-elect Steve Chucri is one to watch, so he earns the Expect Big Things Hammer. Steve is one of the most affable guys you’ll ever meet. Adding his voice to the Board of Supervisors will ensure that the needs of Maricopa County will always come before any personal political agenda. Drawing on his experience as the chief of the Arizona Restaurant Association, I expect he’ll inject a pro-business point of view into the Board’s work that will help Maricopa County grow more jobs.
Southern Arizona Star: Lea Marquez-Peterson
Lea Marquez-Peterson, the president and CEO of the fast-growing Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, wins the Hammer for her groundbreaking work to illuminate business issues for southern Arizona’s Hispanic and Spanish-speaking community. Through her work on votaaz.org, an online guide to candidates and election information, Lea is ensuring that more people than ever understand public policy’s impact on business.
I’ll Be Back: Kirk Adams
Former state House Speaker Kirk Adams may have come up short in his bid for Congress, but he’s simply too talented a leader and respected as a conservative voice to be gone from the scene long. Here’s hoping it’s won’t be too long until Kirk returns to a position of influence.
Emerging Mayor: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
If I were pressed, I might be able rattle off the names of a dozen or so big city mayors around the country. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton gets the Hammer Award for now having clearly joined that small list of mayors whose influence exceeds the borders of his or her city. Mayor Stanton and his colleagues on the Council are doing great things in Phoenix. The Mayor has taken the lead in advancing trade with Mexico, developing a biotech hub, education and pension reform. Because of Stanton and City Manager David Cavazos, when cities around the country are looking for best practices, they’ll look to Phoenix.
Councilmen of the Year:  Sal DiCiccio and Tom Simplot
Phoenix has dramatically reduced the time it takes to get a project through the permitting process, an initiative headed up by Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Tom Simplot.  This effort has received national attention, including from columnist George Will.
Buy this Stock: Danny Seiden
Danny Seiden, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s political adviser, wins the Hammer for being a stock to watch in 2013. He was on the inside of two big wins in the 2012 election cycle: the defeat of Props 204 and 121, the so-called open primary measure, all while working with Montgomery to return the office of county attorney to respectability. And to boot, he’s married to one of Arizona’s most talented women, Southwest Gas executive Ann Seiden. Buy this stock!
The Next Generation: Martinez and Romero
They’re barely old enough to rent a car, but Gretchen Martinez (formerly Conger) and Lorna Romero each wins a Hammer for representing the next generation of Arizona politics. Martinez was the successful No on 204 campaign manager while doing her day job directing advocacy efforts at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Romero last month was named Gov. Brewer’s director of legislative affairs, where she helps shepherd the governor’s priorities through the legislative process.
Serious Work for a Funny Man: Chris Bliss and the Bill of Rights Memorial
Professional juggler and comedian Chris Bliss wins a Hammer for his dogged determination to install monuments to the Bill of Rights in civic spaces across America. Thanks to Bliss’ work and legislation introduced by U.S. Rep.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona last week became the first state to dedicate a monument. The limestone pieces with the words of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution can be found at Wesley Bolin Plaza at the state Capitol.
Former Roommate of the Year: Steve Voeller
This is no slight to anyone else who split the rent check with me during my 20s, but Steve Voeller wins the Hammer for Former Roommate of the Year for his tireless and effective tax policy work at the state Capitol as head of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Steve is now headed off to serve as Sen.-elect Jeff Flake’s chief of staff. A trusted adviser for years to the senator-elect, Steve will be an excellent leader for the Flake office as he shuttles between D.C. and Arizona. The Chamber wishes him the best of luck in his new post.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/.

Brewer

Will Bennett block Brewer from seeking 3rd term?

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett says he might try to block Gov. Jan Brewer from getting on the ballot if she tries to run for another term.

Brewer has floated the idea that term limits don’t prevent her from running again because she wasn’t elected to the partial term she held after Democrat Janet Napolitano resigned in 2009.

Bennett himself is a possible candidate for governor. He has a committee to explore such a candidacy. He has said he believes that term limits bar Brewer from running again.

His office processes candidate filings but he told Phoenix station KTVK during an interview aired late Sunday that his office might not accept Brewer’s paperwork.

He noted that both he and Brewer swore to uphold the state Constitution.

sales.tax

Governor’s task force making right moves on sales tax

One of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s top legislative priorities for 2013 is to simplify our state’s sales tax system.  Our sales tax is so complicated that you might be surprised to learn that Arizona does not technically have a sales tax. Rather, we have a transaction privilege tax (TPT), something that requires certain merchants to pay for the “privilege” of selling taxable items and a use tax, which is aimed at consumers who purchase certain goods to pay.

Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Jan Brewer and the state Legislature, we have made tremendous progress in tax reform over the past two years. Our corporate income tax rates, capital gains tax rates, business equipment and property assessments are all being reduced to put the state in a better competitive position and to win back the jobs we lost in the Great Recession.

But when it comes to the TPT and use tax, the state is out of kilter. After the expiration of the temporary one-cent sales tax in June 2013, our overall sales tax burden (state and local) will be among the 15-highest in the country. However, perhaps even more problematic than the tax rate will be the incredible complexity of the system, which places substantial administrative burdens on companies – particularly small businesses – and also leads both to willful and inadvertent tax avoidance.

Gov. Brewer on May 11 wisely issued an Executive Order establishing the Transaction Privilege Tax Simplification Task Force, premised on the following three points:

> Arizona has one of the most complex sales tax systems in the country;
> Taxpayers have expressed a clear desire to see reforms enacted that will modernize and simplify the TPT; and
> It is in the interest of taxpayers and state and local governments to make the tax code easier to understand, comply with and administer.

Lead by one of the state’s smartest and savviest tax and policy experts, the governor’s director of policy, Michael Hunter, the task force recently released a draft report. The report, which in an easy to digest 22-page document captures the group’s 17 meetings conducted over a five-month period.  The key recommendations:

State law should allow only a single audit, in accordance with existing statutory schedules, including a multi-jurisdictional audit if applicable.
The current tax structure for contracting activity is a mess and should be transitioned to a tax on materials at the point of sale, which if done properly should ease compliance and increase the overall pot of tax dollars available to local communities.
The State Legislature should act to ensure that Arizona is well-positioned to benefit from the taxation of online retail and remote sales.
The state, cities and towns should standardize TPT licensing
When fully implemented, the online portal required by legislation authored by Rep. Rick Gray (HB 2466) should be expanded to issue all TPT licenses and allow for all TPT tax returns to be filed through the portal.

These are all sound, commonsense ideas. While there is much work to be done to implement all of these recommendations, it is exciting that we have taken the first step to simplify a tax system so complicated that few Arizonans even know what it’s called.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/

Brewer

Brewer faces choice on Arizona health exchange

Gov. Jan Brewer is being pulled one way by major business groups and another by fellow conservatives as she faces a fast-approaching deadline to decide whether to implement a key part of the federal health care law.

The decision, due Friday, will determine if Arizona creates a state-run, online marketplace for consumers to use when choosing health plans, or lets the federal government create and run a so-called “exchange” for the state.

Brewer is among the Republican governors who oppose the law, but she has yet to indicate what course she’ll take.

Down the road, Brewer will face an equally hot-potato decision on whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program — another key aspect of the health care law.

Brewer’s administration has spent millions of dollars of federal grant money on planning and preliminary work for creating a health exchange.

Republican legislators and conservatives such as the Goldwater Institute say the requirement for an exchange is an infringement on the rights of states and individuals.

Meanwhile, a coalition of business groups wants Brewer to create a state exchange so Arizona has a say in in its design and funding.

“If we retain that control, we’re better able to customize and tweak and make adjustments,” said Pete Wertheim, a vice president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Brewer already has selected a minimum benefits package for a state-run exchange based on current insurance coverage for state employees. She noted in a Sept. 28 letter to the Obama administration that the package excludes abortion coverage.

Brewer has said her administration has done a lot of planning to be prepared but also indicated she was still studying the issue and hadn’t made a decision.

“I’ve got to decide (whether) it’s the right thing for Arizona,” Brewer said while noting she will need legislative approval.

It’s clear that establishing a state-run exchange would put Brewer at odds with many Republicans in the Legislature, with no assurance that she would win the necessary approval.

“I don’t believe there are the votes in the House to pass something like this, so I don’t think this is going to go anywhere,” said House Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh, a critic of the health care law and its penalties on some employers who don’t provide coverage to workers.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Nancy Barto offered a similar assessment of legislative leanings but said Brewer’s office “at least on the exchange seems committed to take a chance on Obamacare.”

“I would hope she wouldn’t do it without consideration of her party,” Barto said. “She has a record of standing up to the federal government and standing up for her party’s ideals, and this is a big part of that discussion.”

Proposing a state-run exchange wouldn’t be the first time Brewer has defied the wishes of most GOP lawmakers on a politically dicey issue.

After a year of trying, she was able to get lawmakers to put a temporary sales tax increase on a statewide ballot. Voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2010 to avoid deep cuts to schools and other services during the state’s budget crisis.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson declined to discuss what legislators’ “potential appetite” would be for having a state-run exchange.

On a related health care law issue with similar state-vs.-federal considerations, Brewer decided it was better to have the state run its own program to review health insurance rates than let the federal government handle it. The state has formally approved rules for a rate-review program.

Regarding the exchange, Brewer health policy adviser Don Hughes has said the governor wants to impose as few regulations and requirements on insurers as possible so it doesn’t turn into a duplicative regulator of the industry.

Conservative groups such as the Goldwater Institute and Americans for Prosperity are calling for Brewer to stiff-arm the federal law’s mandate for an exchange. Meanwhile, social-service advocacy groups are weighing in with calls for the state to create an exchange that is friendly to consumers on affordability, convenience and oversight.

“We’re optimistic that consumers will have influence in the design of it,” said Stephen Jennings, an AARP Arizona associate director.

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Heroes, Goats and ‘Pure Idiocy’

In case you’ve been living in a cave, next Tuesday is Election Day. Here are a few thoughts about some of the folks that have distinguished themselves as true leaders and others who have made us tune them out this election season.

The Heroes
 
The Treasurer

Treasurer Doug Ducey’s leadership on Proposition 204 is astonishing.  Before his involvement the tax measure was cruising to what many – including me – believed to be a double-digit win.  But now, from every poll that I have seen – including in swing districts in southern Arizona – it is behind and headed for defeat.

Treasurer Ducey has raised dollars, rallied the major chambers and small business groups and an impressive list of mayors and has articulated a clear case on the ills of what would be the state’s largest tax increase. Win, lose or draw, Treasurer Ducey should be recognized for his efforts.

The real education reformers

One of the savviest and wisest policy minds in this state, Jaime Molera, deserves praise for his gutsy opposition when Prop. 204 first hit the streets.  Also making the case for real education reform is Dr. Craig Barrett, who has made clear that 204 is rotten policy. The retired chairman and CEO of Intel delivers as effective a speech as any educational leader in the country on what it takes to improve our schools.  We all agree we need to improve our K-12 education system.  A proposal that permanently raises the state’s sales tax to the second-highest in the nation without directing dollars to proven education reforms is obviously not the answer, though.

The President and the Speaker

Steve Pierce and Andy Tobin have been paragons of leadership at the Legislature the past two years, and in the last year have led their chambers as Senate President and House Speaker, respectively.  Not only have the two championed passage of the most comprehensive set of job creation proposals in the nation, they have passed responsible budgets and moved the state past divisive issues.  As a result of their work and the vision of Gov. Jan Brewer, Arizona is now ranked as a Top-10 state from Chief Executive Magazine and rated number one by the Kauffmann Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Index.

Both President Pierce and Speaker Tobin have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect viable and valuable incumbents, particularly those now thrust into more competitive districts as a result of the redistricting process.

I find it humorous that some would attack Pierce in particular on fundraising.  He has raised more than anyone in the state, perhaps ever (not counting unions; see below) for legislative races. Compare his Herculean efforts with any challenger or even the state GOP and it is obvious that any criticism is crass political posturing. But if you don’t think the president and speaker have done enough, there’s still time to write a check.

The Goats
 
The Pinal County GOP Brain Trust

Sen. Andy Biggs deserves credit for his role in shaping a strong budget this past year.  With that said, it makes no sense to listen to a few angry and misguided Pinal County GOP poobahs and change horses in legislative leadership when under President Pierce’s direction the Senate has been firing on all cylinders. The thought of replacing Andy Tobin’s steady hand with freshman Steve Smith, no matter his enthusiasm, is absurd.

What is particularly outrageous is that this call has been issued at the end of an election in an area of the state that is so hotly contested. Their time in these last precious hours before the polls close would be better spent working to ensure that candidates like Frank Pratt and TJ Shope have a seat in the House of Representatives come January.

Richard Carmona

Rich Carmona’s ad implying an endorsement from Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain is both deceitful and stupid.  Not to provide proper context from remarks made from our senators over 10 years ago is wrong.  Carmona launched his ad on the 45th anniversary of Sen. McCain being shot down over Hanoi. Instead of taking that day to thank and honor Sen. McCain, Carmona instead chose to use the senator to deceive voters.

The Carmona campaign didn’t do itself any favors when it, in response to Sens. McCain and Kyl’s anger over the ad, dismissed the senators as career politicians. The Arizona Republic nailed it in Tuesday’s editorial when it called the Carmona charge, “pure idiocy.”

Carmona left himself open for a strong counterpunch, and the senators connect in their response ad. The counter ad should be enough to put Congressman Flake over the top and into the U.S. Senate.
 
The name callers

If you want to talk about lazy language, the charges that John McComish is an extremist don’t pass the laugh test.  McComish is a business-minded, independent former chamber executive who supports jobs-friendly legislation and stands strong against the bad ideas.  And hopefully there is a price to pay for the bozos who took a page from the Carmona playbook and suggested that Sen. Jerry Lewis endorsed Russell Pearce.  For anyone awake in Arizona, you’ll recall Sen. Lewis defeated Pearce in a recall race last year. You can Google it.

Final Observations

For those not convinced that paycheck protection is urgently needed to prevent union members’ paychecks from being raided to underwrite political campaigns, one need just to look at what is going on in the Senate races involving Senators McComish and Lewis.

Some feel that appeasement works and that certain unions will play nice if left alone.  Well, after somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 in outside dollars -much of it union money – launched against Sen. McComish, we get a sense of how well appeasement works.

If you’re shopping for an early Christmas or Hanukkah gift for Arizona, I recommend paycheck protection legislation.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

BORDER GOVERNORS

Brewer makes changes to her senior staff

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has made changes to her senior staff, appointing a new deputy chief of staff and state Department of Administration director.

Brewer announced Thursday that Kathy Peckardt is her new deputy chief of staff.

Peckardt has been director of human resources at the Department of Administration since 2002.

The governor says Brian McNeil is rejoining her administration as ADOA director.

McNeil’s appointment is effective Nov. 1 and Peckardt’s on Nov. 9.

Brewer says both moves are necessary due to the promotion of Scott Smith to chief of staff.

Smith has held a dual role as deputy chief of staff and ADOA director.

Governor_JanBrewer_Portrait_2011_LG

Brewer names new chief of staff

Gov. Jan Brewer is promoting Scott Smith to be her new chief of staff, replacing Eileen Klein who has accepted the state Board of Regents’ top staff job.

Smith was Brewer’s top legislative lobbyist before becoming her deputy chief of staff, He is also director of the state Department of Administration and was point man for Brewer in working on a package of changes to state personnel system.

Klein leaves Brewer’s staff to become Board of Regent president. Klein initially was Brewer’s budget director but she was promoted to chief of staff in late 2009.

That appointment of the former legislative aide helped improve relations between Brewer and the Republican-led Legislature during the state’s budget crisis.

Brewer’s office says the changes involving Smith and Klein are effective Nov. 9.

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Arizona Commerce Authority gets new CEO

The Arizona Commerce Authority — the state’s economic development organization — is finally getting a new CEO to replace Don Cardon. The ACA is charged with creating jobs and boosting the state’s economy.

The Arizona Commerce Authority board voted unanimously Tuesday to have a board committee negotiate a contract with Sandra Watson, who was chief deputy to former CEO Cardon and has served as interim CEO since July.

Watson has made $218,000 annually as interim CEO. Cardon’s salary was $300,000.

The quasi-private authority took over economic development functions from the now-disbanded state Department of Commerce. The authority gets $35 million of state funding annually, including $25 million for grants to help attract, expand or retain businesses.

Cardon announced in January that he will return to running his businesses.

The authority’s board hired a search firm to help find a new CEO, but Gov. Jan Brewer said no other candidates emerged from that process as a finalist.

“We certainly interviewed and consulted with a lot of people but no one rose to the occasion,” said Brewer, who heads the authority’s board.

The board’s executive committee decided “that Sandra really stepped up in the interim and that she would serve us well as the ACA president moving forward,” the governor said.

Brewer won legislative approval of creation of the authority last year as part of legislation that also included business tax cuts.

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Science Foundation releases 5-year plan to strengthen STEM education

Ask any leader of a technology company in Arizona what their biggest hurdles are and there is always one common challenge: finding enough homegrown qualified workers to fill their needs.

“Arizona is transitioning to an economy that is increasingly dependent upon a knowledge-based workforce,” said Steve Sanghi, CEO of Microchip in Chandler. “Out No. 1 challenge is to improve the schools. Arizona high schools are near the bottom and if we don’t improve them soon, it’s really going to impact the future.”

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is doing something to help Sanghi and other business leader. The nonprofit public-private partnership has launched the Arizona STEM Network. The STEM Network is a first-of-its-kind strategic effort to help transform Arizona’s educational system for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“The vision for a statewide, strategic commitment to STEM education is coming to fruition,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “The Arizona STEM Network will help build a common agenda for STEM education that will lead our teachers and students forward.”

The five-year plan being led by SFAz will leverage effective education practices and teaching advances, including the state-adopted, internationally benchmarked Common Core Standards. The Arizona STEM Network will provide educators, the business community and donors with a centralized infrastructure, tools, resources and the framework needed to measure performance and achieve collective impact in Arizona classrooms. The plan’s driving force is to help Arizona children be successful in school, careers and life.

The Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation — which provided $2.2 million for the establishment of SFAz’s STEM initiative, announced a new three-year, $2.1 commitment beginning in this year that will allow SFAz to roll out its plan for the Arizona STEM Network. Also providing financial support for the launch were the Helios Education Foundation, Intel, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

“We believe that the private sector must play an active role in developing the next generation to keep our businesses competitive and our economy vibrant,” said Tracy Bame, president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation. “A first-rate education that encompasses the STEM disciplines is a foundational step to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.”

The STEM Network focuses on four strategic areas:

* Integrating STEM learning into Arizona schools and districts.

* Developing and deploying a predictive analytics system to measure impacts.

* Strengthening teacher effectiveness in STEM teaching.

* Creating opportunities for the private business sector to meaningfully engage with schools.

“Arizona must develop a globally competitive educational system and STEM disciplines will lead the way,” said Darcy Renfro, vice president of education and coordinator of the Arizona STEM Network at SFAz. “The Network will link existing STEM assets in Arizona, build on best practices and foster innovative teaching approaches for school districts to help students improve in these areas.”

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Brewer appoints Republican judge to Supreme Court

Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Ann Scott Timmer is Gov. Jan Brewer’s choice to fill a vacancy on the Arizona Supreme Court.

The 52-year-old Republican was one of three finalists nominated by a state screening commission.

Timmer replaces former Justice Andrew Hurwitz, a Democrat, and her appointment changes the court’s partisan makeup to four Republicans and one Democrat. Hurwitz resigned in June to become a federal judge.

Brewer’s three Supreme Court appointments have all gone to fellow Republicans.

Timmer was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2000 by then-Gov. Jane Hull, another Republican.

Brewer says in a statement that Timmer embodies judicial restraint and respects the separation of powers between branches of government.

In 2003, Timmer authored a panel’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Arizona’s law banning same-sex marriages.