Published January 13, 2017, by Arizona Capitol Times

Todd Sanders president and CEO of the greater phoenix chamber of commerce

Todd Sanders, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

Few anticipated the political world we inhabit in 2017. Our leaders in Washington, D.C., are determining the most effective ways to advocate for Arizona and get things accomplished under the new Trump administration. Fortunately, here at home, Gov. Doug Ducey and myriad pro-business lawmakers are our strong partners in increasing growth, strengthening competitiveness and continuing the success of Arizona’s business community.

Our priorities for the 2017 legislative session include growing Arizona’s workforce talent pipeline, continuing to move the needle on improving our K-12 and higher education systems and reforming the initiative process, which currently enables out-of-state interests to treat our state as a test bed for ill-conceived proposals.

The Chamber’s economic development team along with the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County and the Arizona Commerce Authority – partners in our Phoenix Forward collaborative economic development initiative – visited more than 900 businesses last year and determined that the top priority for these employers is developing and maintaining access to a qualified workforce.

The vast majority of our efforts in this area starting last year and through this year are dedicated to building this talent pipeline in the construction, financial services, cybersecurity, compliance and risk management and health care sectors.

Key to this work is bolstering our state’s education system at every level, from kindergarten through college.

The teachers, families and education and business advocates who coalesced last year to ensure the passage of Proposition 123 deserve our whole-hearted thanks. The successful measure to bring $3.5 billion in new money to Arizona K-12 schools topped Governor Ducey’s list of accomplishments in 2016.

I applaud the governor’s dedication to keep education a centerpiece of his administration with pledges during his 2017 State of the State address to call for school investment above inflationary increases each year; permanently increase teacher salaries beyond those afforded by local overrides and Prop. 123 and create an Arizona Teachers Academy that pays for teachers’ education, allowing them to graduate debt-free with a job waiting.

To read the viewpoint article in its entirety on the Arizona Capitol Times’ website, visit here.


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