Valley Partnership brings together Arizona leaders for legislative wrap-up

Valley Partnership hosted their annual Legislative Wrap-up breakfast earlier this month, which brought together legislators and business leaders alike to recap the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2018 legislative session.. The group  honored Senator Kate Brophy McGee as Legislator of the Year, and featured her on a panel alongside Victor Riches, President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute, and Representative Rusty Bowers to discuss the hard-hitting issues Arizona faces.

With education a focal point of the 2018 session, the panel mentioned there were big wins of the year, there are still plenty more to be had.

Both legislators emphasized their commitment to the 20 percent pay increase for teacher salaries by 2020 and maintaining resources for other important initiatives in the future.

Senator Brophy McGee made the point that transparency and creative ideas are needed within school districts to ensure efficiency with school funds, “The districts as part of this redesigning Proposition 301 need to bring reforms and efficiencies forward so that more dollars can be directed into the classroom so that you can do more and more with flexibility as opposed to simply dumping more dollars into the system.”

Representative Bowers and Riches each touched on the unsung success story in Arizona education.  Bowers attributes it to the combination of teachers who inspire and who kids to want to learn. Bowers also remarked that great schools with great teachers need to be “identified and replicated.” 

Victor Riches brought to light the success of Arizona students as seen in their rapidly-improving performance on state and national exams such as  AzMerit. Riches noted, “There’s been a narrative that’s been perpetrated by the press and traditional education community that we’re just in this terrible funk when it comes to education, but actual test results don’t bear that out.”

Although education dominated the 2018 docket, there are other items the panelists would like to see acted on next year.

Riches adamantly believes that improving the tax system is where Arizona needs to set its eyes. “There’s a lot of other states that are getting a lot more aggressive with their tax structure and so there was a time when from a pure tax competitive standpoint, Arizona was closer to the top 10, top 12. In terms of tax competitiveness, we’re around 22, 23 now… we have to become more aggressive.”

Representative Bowers stressed the importance of solving Arizona’s water issue, “I hope that you will recognize that we’re not trying to be in any way capricious with water. The drought is pressing. These decisions have to be very, very measured and we intend for them to be so.”

Morgan Carr

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