The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday held its Annual Awards Luncheon to honor and celebrate state leaders and their achievements in policy, business and volunteerism.
The Chamber presented seven awards to state and local leaders for their work in bettering Arizona through civic action.
Gov. Doug Ducey was recognized with the Milton Friedman Award for his work to make the Arizona job market more accessible to individuals with occupational licenses granted in other states.
The award is named after the 1976 Economic Sciences Nobel Memorial Prize winner, who was known for his strong belief in free-market capitalism.
“I can’t think of a more important time with a debate raging between different systems to highlight efforts that Dr. Friedman would have felt were worthy,” Arizona Chamber President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “Governor Doug Ducey in 2019 spent a lot of energy correcting a government system that resulted in the establishment of barriers to legitimate employment [through] onerous occupational licensing laws.”
The governor said he was honored to accept the award.
“Wow, I want to say thank you very much,” Ducey said. “I want to make Arizona the best place in the country to live, work and play. I often talk about having opportunity for all. We’re having some discussion right now around opportunity zones. I think of the entire state as an opportunity zone.”
In April, Arizona became the first state to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses and certificates when Ducey signed House Bill 2569 into law after it received bipartisan support in both the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate.
Thirty percent of jobs require a state-issued license, and not having universal recognition of licensing puts a significant barrier on a worker’s ability to move to another state.
Ducey’s work to promote the historic legislation and put Arizona on the forefront of licensing reform is part of why he was recognized at the event.
During the past year, Ducey also worked with state officials to gain consensus around a variety of topics including water, the fiscal year 2020 budget, and tax conformity.
The governor was also recognized for his work on the Drought Contingency Plan, the long-awaited landmark agreement to shore up Lake Mead and secure water supplies for Arizona’s booming central corridor.
At the end of January, the Arizona Legislature almost unanimously approved the joint resolution — 88 for and 1 against — before handing it to the governor, who signed it just hours before a midnight deadline.
“Water’s something we talk about every 40 years. The last time we did something this significant on water was the Drought Contingency Plan in 1980,” Ducey said in an onstage conversation with Hamer. “Maricopa County’s the fastest growing county in the country. That’s three years running. This isn’t on a small base. If you take the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area this is 4.8 million people. This water is needed, it’s necessary, this was a legislative reform.”
“We are certainly getting our financial house in order. Paying down debt, putting money in the Rainy-Day Fund, but I wanted to take the opportunity to make sure that we were reforming our taxes, providing tax relief [and] simplifying our tax code,” Ducey said.
The tax reforms were included in the fiscal year 2020 budget, which passed in late May.
“This is the fifth budget I have signed, and it is far and away the best budget I have signed,” Ducey said. “In this budget, we were able to do things that were probably past due.”
The Arizona Industry Fellows were also recognized by the Chamber at the event for completing a series of seminars focused on the intersection of business and public policy. The 2019 class was the second class to complete the program, which is sponsored by the Arizona Chamber Foundation.
Other awards given at the event were:
- Best City for Business in Arizona: Town of Gilbert,
- Transformational Initiative: Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee co-chairs Tom Buschatzke of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and Ted Cooke of the Central Arizona Project,
- Volunteer of the Year: Michelle Bolton, Director of Government Affairs at Cox Communications Southwest Region,
- Representative of the Year: Arizona State Representative Warren Petersen (LD12),
- Senator of the Year: Arizona State Senator Vince Leach (LD11), and
- Special Recognition Award for Water Advocacy: Arizona State Senator Lisa Otondo (LD4).