Friday, May 24, 2013

Republic's Robb of great service in understanding Medicaid debate

If you’re trying to unpack Gov. Brewer’s plan to restore the Proposition 204 childless adult population and expand the state’s Medicaid program, you need to check out Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb’s writings on the subject. He’s putting on a clinic and making clear why the restoration/expansion plan is the best route for Arizona.

In his Apr. 12 piece, Robb writes, “Overall, the plan will spend less in state and local public resources to bring in considerably more in federal funds and provide far more extensive health care coverage to far more low-income Arizonans.”

His May 14 column on the risks to the state’s budget if we don’t adopt the governor’s plan was right point when he wrote, “Opponents of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion proposal are recklessly minimizing the risk to the state’s fisc of not participating.”

And we have to remember that looming over this entire debate is a voter mandate under Proposition 204, passed 13 years ago. Robb reminds us of that vote, writing, “If the state isn’t going to ignore the Prop. 204 mandate, there are no options that are better than Brewer’s proposal. “

Robb warns opponents not to put too much stock in an appeals court decision regarding how closely the Legislature must hew to Prop. 204’s mandate. He writes, “Some say the mandate can just be ignored due to a state Court of Appeals decision upholding the freeze. That’s a very high-risk assumption. The Court of Appeals decision, written by Judge Patricia Norris, frankly makes no sense.”

Robb is not only one of the state’s best conservative columnists, he’s one of the best columnists period. His work of late has been a great service to the Medicaid debate.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Column debunks groundless rumors surrounding Common Core

If you’re interested in the debate surrounding heightened educational standards in Arizona and other states, I urge you to check out MichaelGerson’s latest column.

I’ve been mystified by some who have mischaracterized the governor and business community’s desire to improve our economic climate as something driven by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. or even connecting these standards to the U.N.

As I’ve written about previously, the country’s brightest stars in public policy and business are backing the adoption of Common Core standards. I’ve cited retired Intel Chairman and CEO Craig Barrett’s involvement, and Gerson cites former Govs. Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush, and current Govs. Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “A plot this vast,” Gerson writes, “is either diabolical or imaginary.”

As Gerson writes, “The conservative reformers who helped shape the Common Core are trying to make incremental improvements in a deeply flawed system.”

While we have some of the very best K-12 schools in the U.S. and these schools can compete with our friends abroad, our system as a whole is not keeping pace with our international competitors.

We can keep looking for conspiracies where they don’t exist, or we can do the right thing for Arizona’s students and economy and back a pro-growth agenda that includes higher standards for our students and tests that match these more rigorous standards. Gerson’s column is a thoughtful piece that captures what is at stake in this debate.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My DEQ portal ready to bring environmental compliance into 21st century

As I’ve written about before, one of the reasons Arizona is moving up the business-friendliness rankings nationwide is because of the state’s commitment to a streamlined regulatory process. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and its director, Henry Darwin, are embracing that ideal with their innovative My DEQ concept.

Gov. Brewer last January made the case for a modernized regulatory environment when she said,

“The next step in the transformation of State Government will be in leveraging E-technology…I will point to ADEQ in this case for its initiative in transitioning from the needless inefficiency and waste of paper transactions…When complete, the portal will allow…paying fees and submitting permits applications and reports. The portal will also provide customers with important information, including permit conditions, upcoming compliance and reporting deadlines, inspection results, permit expiration dates, and upcoming changes in environmental requirements. The completion of this project, with its cost savings, convenience, and compliance assistance, will be a boon to business regulated by ADEQ and help attract new business to Arizona.”

Moving DEQ permitting online will save taxpayers and business time and money. Only three permit types are currently available online. But with the establishment of the My DEQ portal, transaction times can go at light speed. For example, a Hazardous Waste Facility Registration can go from 82 days to one day.

And convenience will mean compliance. Ohio saw a 90 percent drop in violations when that state put its self-monitoring report online.

My DEQ is good government. It’s good for taxpayers, good for business and it just makes sense. It deserves support in the fiscal year 2014 budget.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

California takes on candy

The California Attorney General is waging war against several popular grocery and candy retailers over candy?  AG Kamala Harris has filed suit against retailers such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other retailers and candy manufacturers for failing to properly label ginger and plum candies according the Proposition 65.  We have written before about the Prop. 65 warning signs in California coffee shops like Starbucks about the dangers of their products. 
 Who knew that candy and coffee could be so dangerous?

Prop. 65 requires businesses to issue warnings about even the very smallest amount of chemicals that are deemed “harmful” by the state.

California has gone off the deep end, joining Big Gulp Bloomberg in nanny-state excess.

The primary sources of lead exposure in the U.S. according to the CDC are old paint, contaminated drinking water and soil tainted by leaded gasoline – not candy.

Every day, California is sending a clear message to business: we don’t want you here. 

While California and AG Harris might not want the business of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Target, neighboring states like Arizona want to send an even louder message:  Come on over ! The weather - that is to say, the business climate – is great!

These retailers are opening up shop in neighborhoods all over the U.S., injecting money in to the revenue stream, creating jobs and providing families with more and better choices when it comes to where to shop.  If California wants to alienate these businesses, dig a deeper deficit in their budget and turn away jobs, that is their prerogative, but in Arizona we are not in the business of killing business.

California’s Proposition 65 is too far reaching and is proving to be more harmful than helpful to their citizens.  It’s going to turn away business and hurt their bottom line.