Jaime Molera, co-founder of Phoenix-based government relations and public affairs firm Molera Alvarez, is the new Chair of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Committee. Molera succeeds Cox Communications’ Susan Anable, who served as Chair for six years.
For the last couple of decades Molera has been involved with public policy in one shape or form in Arizona. He worked in the Symington administration in the mid-90’s, kicking off his professional career in Arizona. From 1997-2001 he worked for Governor Hull and then transitioned to the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in addition to serving as Arizona State Board of Education under Governor Jan Brewer.
Here are some highlights of the Q&A Jaime did with the Chamber:
What are your objectives as the Chamber’s public affairs efforts begin again in September?
To continue to create a strong business climate in Greater Phoenix. The Chamber has been a very big champion of is making sure that the regulatory and tax environments are such that businesses can continue to thrive and grow. Other focus areas are a strong education system, from K-12 all the way to higher education, and making sure that there are components of our education system that lead to a strong workforce. So combined with a good business climate, low taxes and low regulations, that mix of objectives can have a pretty powerful impact.
What do you see as the biggest priorities? How do education standards fall into that list of priorities?
It’s not just about having higher education standards, but making sure that we have a meaningful accountability system at all levels. It has to mean that academically, Arizona’s education system is truly preparing students to graduate from high school without the need for remediation as they head to college. Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now. So I think the Chamber is well positioned to help push for a really strong, meaningful accountability system.
What measures do you predict will resurface for the 2016 legislative session?
It’s an election year, so yes…I predict a lot of measures resurfacing in the upcoming legislative session, but I think they are things we can deal with. The repeal of Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards will likely resurface. I hope that Arizona can move forward in implementing the restoration of its Medicaid program. I know our hospitals will go crazy and our health care system will go nuts for that. I also predict various social issues might be coming down the pike again. Again, being an election year, we have to anticipate that.
Why should member businesses get more involved in public affairs and engage in dialogue?
It’s simple: if the Chamber did not do the great job of being an advocate and being aggressive and ensuring that policies lead to a strong business climate, then we’d always be dealing with mediocrity. And I think mediocrity is not where we need to be at this point in the state. We need to be aggressive in focusing on the issues that make a difference for our members and local businesses. Education is just one of those hot-button issues. Having a reasonable and sound healthcare system is another hot issue. More importantly…it’s our job to make sure that bills are not going to harm businesses, but rather enable them to grow and prosper. That’s ultimately where the success in Arizona lies — in our ability to build a stronger workforce. A stronger workforce is going to go a long way towards Arizona’s betterment.