Congressmen Greg Stanton (CD-9) and Andy Biggs (CD-5) both represent prominent districts in the East Valley but together their time in the United States Congress only adds up to roughly three years.
The two Representatives put aside their conflicting voting records this week and sat down to discuss issues facing Arizona in Washington, D.C. at the East Valley Partnership Statesperson Luncheon.
“It’s a heated environment for all the reasons you see on TV,” Stanton said. “But we have to make sure that we don’t allow the heated environment in Washington to get ahead of us in terms of the important work that we’re doing on behalf of our individual districts.”
According to the two, Arizona’s delegation provides a competitive advantage because the members are able to put party aside and work together to accomplish what’s best for the state.
“I think [Arizona] is pretty unique,” Biggs said. “I know there are other delegations that work together but, in our delegation…we treat each other with respect and kindness and we’re not out there attacking each other because we know we have different constituencies, we have different platforms that we’re representing. We come together for Arizona.
Stanton added that while the delegation has little collective experience, their advantage is that when they need to come together on issues that address Arizona, they do.
The two politicians talked with East Valley Partnership members about issues that are important to Arizona such as immigration reform, trade, and Arizona’s business environment.
When asked about immigration reform as a whole, the two Congressmen addressed the new DREAM Act. Stanton said he believes the U.S. needs to pass a “clean DREAM Act” and Biggs responded that this is one policy where the two disagree.
“We’ve heard a lot of support for the DREAM Act and how important it is for America,” Stanton said. “The business community is very supportive of passing the DREAM Act. Instead of trying to use our young “Dreamers” as pawns for a larger effort on the border wall, we should just do it in a clean way [and] provide those young leaders a path to citizenship so they can take their rightful place as leaders in our community is the best way of doing it.”
“The DREAM Act is going to pass out of the Judiciary [Committee],” Biggs added. “It’s going to be a party-line vote on the floor of the House, it’ll [pass] and…I don’t think it advances in the Senate.”
Since the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) approval in October, all three countries have been working on piecing together the final version of the free trade agreement and getting it passed by their respective governments.
According to the Congressmen, the USMCA is still being worked on and they have not seen any recent drafts, but they think it will pass through Congress.
“Divisive politics is bad for business in the state of Arizona,” Stanton said. “I’m confident [about] voting on a renewed NAFTA 2.0, USMCA. It’s so important to the economy in Arizona.”
“We’re still reworking a lot of provisions. We haven’t seen the final draft proposal. It’s going to come out and I believe it’s going to be passed. It will be improved tremendously. I think it’s going to be a more positive and fairer agreement for the U.S.,” Biggs added.
Arizona’s Competitiveness Against Other States
It is no secret that Arizona has had a boom in almost all business sectors considering the state has ranked high in a lot of recent reports regarding job growth and employment rates.
“When we talk about regional and national competitiveness, Arizona’s tax and regulatory structure is one of the best in the country, it really is,” Biggs said. “I think we’re in a great place, we need to get better, of course, but I think we’re going to keep getting better.”
One way that Biggs believes Arizona could improve is by informing students that instead of receiving a four-year college degree, they could receive technical training.
“This state has a lot of open positions and a lot of them are open because we’re not training, we’re sending everybody to college. There are lots of good jobs available with technical training and we need to remember that,” he said.
According to Stanton, while the tax incentives are good at drawing businesses to the state, to remain competitive, Arizona must focus more on education.
“My focus is less on trying to draw businesses from California and other parts of the country and more on building an entrepreneurial environment here where people can start a business and grow a business organically here,” he said. “[We] need to invest more in education. The perception that we don’t invest as much as our competitor states in education is a competitive disadvantage for Arizona that we need to come to terms with.”