Arizona business leaders talk midterms

With voters casting ballots across the state, the business community is focusing on marquee ballot measures and candidates that can affect the course of our state’s economy.

“Ballot propositions play a pivotal role in establishing voter-supported policies at all levels of government,” notes the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in a statement. “However, not all ballot measures are created equally—when enacted, some support businesses and others could be detrimental to the region’s economic prosperity.”

The Greater Phoenix Chamber is supporting Proposition 125, which would make adjustments to retirement plans based on cost-of-living, instead of permanent benefit increases, for correctional officers, probation officers, surveillance officers (Corrections Officer Retirement Plan or CORP) and elected officials (Elected Officials’ Retirement Plan or EORP).

“The Chamber has long held that public retirement systems need reforms to remain sustainable and keep costs down for taxpayers.”

A hotly contested local measure in Phoenix is Prop. 419, the Election Funding Disclosure Charter Amendment. The proposed ballot measure referred to the voters by the Phoenix City Council would require original source disclosures by any entity making expenditures to influence a City of Phoenix election. The Chamber is coming out opposed.

“It has the potential to open the Chamber’s and other nonprofit’s finances to groups that disagree with positions these organizations take in regards to candidates or ballot measures. Additionally, this effort will effectively suppress the business community’s speech in elections,” the Chamber states.

For individuals in the business community in Arizona, this year’s midterms present possible booms or busts for things like taxes. That’s a major topic that Chad Heinrich, a public affairs executive and managing partner of Heinrich LLC, is keeping an eye on.

“I was pleased to see the State Supreme Court remove the income tax increase proposition from the ballot. Not only would it have confused voters, it was wrong-headed policy and, if adopted, would have surely added headwinds to Arizona’s current economic expansion and record growth,” notes Heinrich, commenting on the defunct Proposition 207. “It would have crippled Arizona’s small businesses which drive the vast majority of our state’s economy.”

On the other hand, one proposition that is still on the ballot that causes Heinrich, and those in the business world, concern is Proposition 127, a clean energy mandate. It’s gained national recognition as a ballot measure modeled after other states that have aggressively increased their renewable energy standards.

“With the projected increases in utility rates pegged at up to 50 percent, this proposal, if adopted, would strangle small businesses, senior citizens on fixed incomes, and school districts,” explains Heinrich. “It’s my hope that it dies a painful enough death at the ballot box to discourage like-minded out-of-state interests from using Arizona’s initiative process as a petri dish for policy experiments.”

When it comes to candidates, the business community has—unsurprisingly—sought out those individuals focused on potential growth for the economy. Mike Huckins, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Greater Phoenix Chamber, points out that the goal is to back candidates with long-term outlooks for multiple industries.

“With key industries poised for significant growth, including construction, health care, and cyber security,” explains Huckins, “we support candidates who make it easier for job creators to do business and attract the talent that we need to fill the high-paying jobs our current economy is producing.”

Candidates in particular that Huckins is pointing to are incumbent Governor Doug Ducey, whose steady hand has boosted business in the state, and mayoral candidate Daniel Valenzuela. Valenzuela has been a consistent advocate for pro-business policies and initiatives on city council, and is running on a platform of growth and innovation for the economy’s future.

“His focus on fostering economic development and prosperity are crucial to ensuring that the 5th largest city in the nation continues to thrive,” adds Huckins.

Nick Esquer

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