Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s two terms that were defined by accomplishments that will positively affect the trajectory of the state for a generation were celebrated at a gala event last week.
Produced by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the governor was feted by family, friends, and colleagues like Arizona Cardinals Owner and President Michael Bidwill.
The crowd of more than 800 also included Ducey’s executive staff and members of his administration, who were integral in shaping one of the country’s most consequential gubernatorial administrations over eight years marked by stunning achievements in economic development, regulatory reform, and educational choice.
Best-in-the-nation school choice
Ducey in 2022 implemented a first-of-its kind school choice policy, giving parents unprecedented power to choose where they want their kids to go to school. Under the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, parents can receive around $7,000 per year, per student, to send their kids to a private school or use the funds for other educational services.
American Enterprise Institute research fellow Max Eden said Ducey’s legacy will include “cementing his state’s position as the nation’s leader in school choice,” and the program has been hailed by leaders like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and columnist George Will, as the gold standard in school choice programs.
Shrinking government, growing an economy
During his first campaign for governor, then-candidate Ducey said he wanted taxes to be “as close to zero as possible.” He steadily lowered taxes throughout his entire tenure, culminating in the passage and implementation of a 2.5% flat income tax that will kick in next year.
According to Ducey, the lowest-in-the-nation flat tax will “deliver lasting tax relief to Arizona families and small businesses so they can keep more of their hard-earned money.”
Gov. Ducey has overseen unprecedented economic growth as governor, seeing the state’s GDP rise nearly 50% and Phoenix become one of the fastest growing cities in America.
This growth can be attributed to Ducey’s pro-business policies that have attracted new private industry investment, including in the advanced manufacturing sector from the likes of Lucid, major expansions from companies like Intel, and capping off the governor’s eight years of regular announcements about new jobs coming to the state, news that semiconductor manufacturer TSMC is on track to make an eye-popping $40 billion investment in the state in its development of two new fabrication facilities. Ducey’s time in office has seen the addition of nearly 40,000 manufacturing jobs.
While the growth of the Arizona economy has been explosive, the size of Arizona’s government has gone in the opposite direction. The state has 5,000 fewer government jobs than it did when Ducey took office, but nearly a half-million more private sector jobs, which have contributed to record revenues that have allowed for both tax reductions and a rainy day fund that sits at $1.4 billion, an all-time high.
Over the course of the night, attendees got to hear from current and former staffers, fellow Republican governors, and former Vice President Mike Pence through video messages. They all mentioned two things: Ducey’s amazing work ethic and his trailblazing leadership that resulted in policies that other states are working to adopt themselves.
Following dinner, Will spoke on Ducey’s achievements and legacy.
According to Will, the unprecedented growth of Arizona’s economy and the policy innovations that occurred in the last eight years have solidified Ducey’s legacy as one of the greatest leaders in Arizona history and as “the nation’s most successful governor of the 21st century,” which he wrote in a recent column.
Following Will’s remarks, Ducey reflected on his time in office and thanked his family members for their support and understanding.
The governor’s belief in a smaller, more defined role for government was a consistent theme throughout the evening. Whether that be removing the monopoly on education with school choice or reducing regulations to make Arizona a more attractive business destination, the Ducey administration showed the level of prosperity and growth that can occur when an economy is unshackled from persistent government intervention.