Unpredictable. It’s a phrase that sums up the 2016 presidential election cycle. As we all ponder what lies ahead for President-elect Trump’s administration and the country, we are fortunate to not have to wonder what we can expect from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in 2017.
Kirk Adams, Gov. Ducey’s chief of staff, shared a preview of what we can expect to see from Gov. Ducey in the coming year and what he will cover in his State of the State speech scheduled for January 2017.
“The most important priority for Gov. Ducey will be education,” Adams said to an audience of Arizona business leaders. “We’re talking K-12, higher education, community college, workforce and technical training. Education will always be the No. 1 priority when it comes to allocating budget resources.”
“The economy is the No. 2 priority,” Adams said.
Adams reiterated that Gov. Ducey’s administration spends a lot of time meeting with local businesses and developing policies and strategies to make Arizona more attractive for capital investment and for businesses to relocate or to expand here.
Gov. Ducey will maintain a comprehensive focus on addiction and recidivism which will continue through 2017.
“During his State of the State speech, Ducey will address programs and policies and funding to attack those two issues in a way that the state has not done before,” Adams said. “So you’ll see a strong effort in that regard…but it will be done within the context of maintaining budget discipline.”
Adams also said Ducey will address the mood of country and how Arizona has the opportunity to become a model in how we operate and collaborate within the state, but also how Arizona works with our neighbors in Mexico.
Adams added, “I expect that there will be some discussion about trade and maintaining a positive relationship with Mexico in Ducey’s State of the State speech, as well as highlight everything Arizona has done in the last couple of years to dramatically improve that relationship whether it’s at the state level or city level.”
The Affordable Care Act is also a key concern for Ducey, Adams said.
“The great failing of Obamacare is that it is a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said. “We’ve already begun that process of engaging.”
Adams says that it is his hope is that Congress will approach the Affordable Care Act’s flaws in a very reasoned way.
“We have to be very careful about how we address the market that’s been created while still repealing those elements of Obamacare that are really hurting people,” Adams shared. “We will be active in the next few weeks with our contacts in the Trump administration and in Washington, D.C., letting them know how we feel about it.”
Adams also addressed another particular concern to Valley business leaders: the effect of federal regulations at the state level.
Adams shared that Ducey’s policy team is in the process of drafting recommended policies for their contacts on the Trump transition team to deal with federal regulations that inhibit progress on infrastructure projects and business activity. Adams says that Trump’s team should do what Gov. Ducey did in Arizona, which was first put a freeze on any new rules and regulations and then begin the process of identifying and rolling back rules and regulations.
“I have yet to meet a chief of staff from another state, Republican or Democrat, or a governor from another state, Republican or Democrat, who does not believe that this is the single greatest problem that states deal with, vis-à-vis with the federal government,” Adams said.
Adams was quick to point out the success that the Ducey administration has had regarding the problems with procedures and regulations, particularly for permits.
“We’ve reduced the permit time, from application to issuance in the state of Arizona, by an average of 75 percent,” he said. “That is digging into the process, in detail, understanding what we really need to have and what we don’t need to have, to move through the permit process faster.”
“Time is money,” Adams said. “And when the government, whether it is at the state, the federal or the local level, is holding you up because they’re playing the paperwork game, it’s not good for business. So we have placed a heavy emphasis through the Arizona management system, which we have now rolled out statewide on leaning out a lot of those processes so that businesses can get to work faster.”
Adams says there is no reason why the federal government can’t streamline that.
“It will take strong executive leadership, commitment and people who understand how to move these large institutions to be more effective, he said. “They can do it in Washington. There are a lot of smart people there to figure this out. They just need to have the will.”
– Written by Jill A. Brownley, marketing and communications director, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.