Monday, April 29, 2013

ICYMI: McCarthy brings voice of reason to Medicaid debate

In case you missed it, Arizona Tax Research Association President Kevin McCarthy in this morning's Republic lends his respected voice to the debate over Gov. Brewer's plan to restore and expand the Prop. 204 childless adult population. 

McCarthy nails it when he writes that the conversation would "benefit from a healthy dose of intellectual honesty about not only the limited options available, but also the legitimacy of claims that we should begin balancing the federal budget disproportionately on the backs of Arizonans."

A real expert

Before the Gang of Eight assembled, which includes our two U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery was busy working with former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and community leaders in the Real Arizona Coalition on an Arizona-based immigration plan. The plan, dubbed with the acronym S.A.N.E. for its focus on security, accountability, its necessity and engagement across all levels of government, has much in common with the Gang of Eight proposal, but it also has some additional useful ideas that could help move the debate forward at a federal level.

While the Arizona Chamber and most major business groups strongly back the new Senate bill, the U.S. House will also play a critical role. A reasonable roadmap forward is for a bill to be thoughtfully considered in the Senate and hopefully pass with a robust bipartisan vote count.  

Although I am not a political science major, both houses of Congress must pass a bill for it to be transmitted to the president and signed in to law. From numerous meetings with House Republican offices and experts in this area, it is apparent to me that the House will work on its own bill or a set of bills that could at some point come together as a package. The end result could actually be a conference committee where selected members of the House and Senate will convene to work out a final proposal that would be voted on and, if all goes well, reach the president.

After listening to the county attorney at a couple of venues last week in Washington, D.C., including an appearance at the National Press Club, I believe that he can play a key role in refining the border security portions, which is practically a prerequisite to get the bill passed in the House. This West Point graduate has the chops and experience to inject useful ideas that will make our border more secure and complete the puzzle on immigration reform.

County Attorney Montgomery said there was more in the U.S. Senate proposal that he liked than did not like. He discussed the security aspects of what is needed in immigration reform with clarity and conviction. 

Gang of Eight member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) calls the Senate proposal a "starting point." If Congress does its work on immigration reform, we have the potential to get a great product out that ignites our economy and dramatically improves our border security. To get this done in the best possible fashion, it is worthwhile to tap the expertise of our country attorney in the security elements of the bill.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Immigration reform poised to provide economic boost

The Gang of Eight’s immigration proposal not only repairs our broken immigration system, but it will also help strengthen our economy and reduce the national debt, according to former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who is now president at the American Action Forum, a Washington-based think tank.

Holtz-Eakin’s study suggests that passing comprehensive immigration reform will increase per capita income by $1,700, increase the G.D.P by nearly 1 percent, and reduce the federal deficit by $2.7 trillion.

The benefits of immigration reform are wide ranging, and in our current economics environment immigration reform would be a shot of adrenaline to our nation’s economy. You can read the full study by Holtz-Eakin at American Action Forum.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chamber expresses broad support for more rigorous ed standards

The Arizona Chamber sent the following letter to state senators today indicating the broad support across the state for more rigorous education standards and an improved assessment.

Dear Members of the Arizona State Senate:

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry applauds you for your recent passage of legislation that will retire the AIMS exam in favor of a new assessment that will align with new, more rigorous education standards.

As Governor Brewer said when she signed HB 2425 into law, “The era of low expectations and minimum-competency is over. If we insist upon high academic goals and standards, I know our children will rise to these expectations.”

Arizona voters stand with you and Gov. Brewer. In a recent poll commissioned by the Arizona Business Coalition from Public Opinion Strategies, survey respondents heard the following description of the Common Core standards:

Arizona joined with 46 other states in developing and adopting new standards in reading, writing and math for grades K through 12. These standards will ensure Arizona students have the academic knowledge and skills they need to be successful in college, a career, and in life. The standards will focus more on teaching critical thinking, problem solving and effective communication skills.

Fully 83 percent of survey respondents agree with the standards’ implementation in Arizona after hearing the description, including 52 percent who agree strongly.

Thank you again for working to bring world class education to Arizona.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New US Chamber campaign aimed at making immigration work

I want to pass along this important new website from our friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of their “Making Immigration Work” campaign.

The site features an inspiring video, which contains footage of Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent comments before the US Chamber’s Committee of 100 meeting in Florida that I was fortunate to attend in person.

Readers of this blog know that I believe that the bipartisan Gang of Eight has concocted the right mix of reforms to overhaul of our broken immigration system. US Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue last week issued his own statement praising the Gang’s work.

Sen. Schumer on Sunday said we might see a bill as soon as this week. I’m looking forward to digging into the bill and getting started on the road to an immigration system that works for America. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The 2012-2013 Heritage Award goes to Alice Cooper

The annual Heritage Award honors a distinguished individual whose accomplishments and commitment to Arizona are recognized within the state, nation and world. Past recipients include Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Bil Keane, Senator John McCain, Ambassador Bob Fannin and Frank Kush to name a few. This year’s Heritage Award will be presented to Alice Cooper on April 26th at the University of Phoenix Stadium, a venue fit for a rock star of Cooper’s stature.

Alice Cooper is best known around the world for his special brand of theatrical rock’n’roll, which earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He is the original shock rocker and continues to enjoy a successful onstage career. However, rock’n’roll is not the only thing that sets Alice apart. He is a film actor, a restaurateur, a golfing celebrity, and also a popular radio DJ. Alice Cooper is the recipient of this year’s Heritage Award due to his longtime positive influence on the State of Arizona through business, entertainment, and his unceasing charitable work in the community.

A resident of Phoenix since the age of 10, Alice attended Squaw Peak Elementary and Madison School No. 2 before going to Cortez High School. It was there that he and four track and field teammates started a band called the Earwigs, which went on to become the Alice Cooper Band and enjoyed enormous success. Alice has continued to record and perform ever since.

He has been married to the same woman, Sheryl, for over 30 years and has three children: Calico, Dashiell, and Sonora Rose. Throughout his illustrious career he has always remained a dedicated husband and father.

He founded Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Non-Profit Organization in 1995 with Chuck Savale, fellow long-time Arizona resident, with the goal of creating a faith-based organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of kids and teens in the community. Alice describes it as a Christian nonprofit organization to help inner city kids stay out of gangs and away from guns and drugs.

What started out as a fundraising operation raising money for organizations with like-minded missions has since become much more with the addition of the Rock Teen Center. The Rock is a place that allows teens to build confidence and discover their passion through music, dance, self-expression, and creativity.

Alice has a popular syndicated radio show, “Night’s with Alice Cooper,” that broadcasts on over 100 stations, film and television credits from multiple popular movies and television series, and owns the popular restaurant, Alice Cooperstown, in downtown Phoenix.

We at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry look forward to honoring Alice Cooper on April 26, 2013 with the 2012-2013 Heritage Award and hope that you will join us at 6:00 p.m. for Registration and a Reception and 7:00 p.m. for the night’s program.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fix the Debt this Thursday in Sun City

Sen. Jeff Flake this Thursday, Apr. 4 will appear at a special discussion on the national debt taking place at the Fairway Center in Sun City.

The forum is a presentation of the Arizona arm of the national Fix the Debt campaign. I sit on the Arizona steering committee along with other business and political leadership across the state as together we look for bipartisan solutions to alleviate our country’s crushing national debt.

During the spring recess, senators and representatives are going back to their home districts to host discussions about the national debt. They are using this break to continue to push a bipartisan, comprehensive agreement to reduce the deficit and control the debt.

At over $16 trillion dollars, the national debt is begging to be addressed with serious, commonsense solutions; our newly elected U.S. senator is doing just that.

Businesses of all sizes have much to gain from a reduction in the national debt. Reduction of the deficit and putting the debt on a path to payoff would create economic certainty that will foster a business climate more conducive to hiring and making new investments.

With our national debt growing at a rate of more than $2 billion every day, businesses don’t know what to expect. Interest rates and inflation rates will likely continue to increase, creating an environment that is extremely detrimental to business, and preventing our economy from truly taking off.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is working tirelessly to address the national debt now rather than sweeping it under the rug for future generations to attempt to fix. 

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday at 10:00 AM in Sun City.