As Attorney General, Terry Goddard has worked to protect our families. He’s taken on drug cartels, mortgage companies, payday lenders, and meth dealers--even when the legislature refused. Terry Goddard is a true leader.
Arizona’s number one priority should be finding ways to grow and attract jobs to get Arizonans working again. It should always be Job One. Instead we see political games being played at the Capitol -- closing highway rest areas, shutting down state parks, attempts to abolish health care for low-income children, arguments about how long traffic lights should stay yellow. These games don't build Arizona or attract new investment. Arizona is on the wrong track.
As an Arizona native who has spent much of my life working to improve our state, I am angry to see how the current leadership is mortgaging our children’s future by irresponsible financial management, squandering our resources, increasing the structural deficit, and dealing with our long-term problems with short-term attempted fixes. They don't balance the budget or improve schools. Our current “leaders” just waste time and make Arizona look silly. It’s time for Arizona leaders to act like adults.
After almost two years with this lack of leadership, our state has no plan to restore the over 300,000 jobs that Arizona men and women have lost. We get Arizona working again first by diversifying Arizona’s economy. For too long we have relied on sheer growth for economic development. That’s not economic development - that is a migration pattern.
To diversify our economy, we need to establish a private sector organization run by professionals to promote Arizona and work with the Governor and legislature to enact policies that will help grow Arizona jobs and attract new jobs from out of state.
As part of growing and attracting new jobs, Arizona needs to be able to close the deal to make that happen. While some would give tax breaks, I propose that Arizona create a deal closing fund that will assist new and growing businesses with public infrastructure that will help them be more successful.
We must not abandon our mainstay industries in Arizona. Tourism, health care, and agriculture have been neglected for too long. Their budgets have been cut and programs ignored; we need to reenergize these economic development engines.
We must reinvest in programs like Science Foundation Arizona, which has a proven track record in leveraging state, federal and private dollars for research and development here in Arizona. We must attract science-based, research driven industries, incentives industries that export products, and ensure that our growing biosciences sector leads the way.
We must focus on what matters to Arizonans: A good job to support a family, a great education system to prepare our children for the future, open space to enjoy the beauty of Arizona.
MAKING ARIZONA TOURISM WORK AGAIN
Arizona as a destination has always had a recognizable and respected tourism brand. But now, because Jan Brewer has declared war on tourism, the industry is bleeding jobs and revenue. Instead of being seen as warm and welcoming – a place people want to visit and businesses want to relocate to – Arizona has been repositioned as a place that is cold, closed and dangerous.
The Arizona brand has been high-jacked. A healthy tourism industry is critical for our state’s recovery. Every month that we lose market share compounds our losses. Studies prove that for every 0.1 point loss in market share, for example, Arizona will lose an estimated 13,000 jobs, $780.0 million in statewide funding and $60 million in tax collections.
Tourism by the Numbers
The importance of this industry to our State cannot be overstated. Here are some facts all Arizonans should know.
- In 2008, tourism contributed approximately $1.4 billion to State and local revenues. What makes this number even more impressive is that tourism does not require incentives from government to operate.
- Travel and tourism is the only industry that is present and contributing revenue in every county in Arizona.
- In 2009, the travel industry accounted for 157,200 direct travel-related jobs with earnings of $4.7 billion. Secondary impacts were 135,000 jobs with earnings of $4.9 billion.
- According to conservative estimates, every $1 spent on tourism advertising returns $7.00 to the state in taxes.
- About three-fourths of all travel spending occurs in Pima and Maricopa counties. But in relation to the size of the regional economies with Arizona, travel is actually more important in the non-metropolitan areas of the state. In non-metro regions, including many Native American communities, tourism is the most important – and sometimes only -- revenue generator.
Support for State Parks
Jan Brewer looked at the tourism industry, which is already under siege by the Great Recession, and responded by trying to kill it with false and hysterical statements about our border. Her message was clear: Arizona is a dangerous and scary place. Don’t come here. She amplified that message by closing many state parks, putting others on a reduced and confusing visitor schedule and closing Arizona’s rest areas. As of this writing, she is looking now to sell our parks and rest stops to private bidders. This misguided approach throws the future of our state parks and rest areas into doubt, decimates our important natural and cultural assets. It tells rural Arizona (where the majority of state parks are located) that their regions are not important and even dispensable.
I am committed to protecting Arizona’s state parks as the extraordinary resource they provide to both residents and visitors.
I believe public open space is critical to the well-being of Arizonans and to our future quality of life. In addition, keeping our state parks open is good business. Parks contribute to the tourism experience. Arizona State Parks attract 2.3 million visitors each year and produce $266 million of direct and indirect economic impact plus $22.7 million in state and local taxes. Parks are an integral part of the tourism experience and make a huge contribution to this economic sector. Our cultural resource parks honor our Arizona heritage and provide dynamic attractions in rural areas. They are our birthright and our legacy to our children.
Supporting the Convention & Leisure Traveler
Tourism has two different faces: the convention/meeting traveler and the leisure visitor. While conventions and meetings are the big ticket tourism “item,” they require larger facilities found largely in bigger cities. This means that urban areas not only feel the direct gain of economic impact with meetings and conventions, they also feel the losses. Recently, more than 40 meetings booked for Arizona cancelled because of SB 1070, adding to the economic woes of our major metro areas. We have no way of calculating the rolling, longer-term loss since meetings book five to ten years ahead of time.
In today’s global climate, cities and their convention bureaus are fighting for a share of an ever-shrinking market. Even without political mayhem, business travel is dramatically reduced or becomes almost non-existent during economic recessions while competition grows more intense. Destinations respond by competing with their attractions and airfares, but also with state-of-the-art convention facilities and meeting amenities. Arizona has long assumed that our most unique attribute, our warm climate, will win the day. In fact, that’s not true. In this competitive environment, our warm weather puts us in competition with every warm weather destination in the U.S. and, sometimes, even the world.
The Governor’s office should be available to the industry to explore how the State can assist in promoting Arizona as a premiere destination for conventions and meetings. AOT should work closely with the CVBs to create effective programming, messaging and materials that leverage talents and revenues to make Arizona once again a desirable meeting destination. This effort would reach out to both international and domestic markets.
Like the meetings market, leisure travel has been impacted by unemployment, mortgage woes and disappearing retirement savings. From 2008 to 2009, the Arizona Office of Tourism reported a 10.2 percent decline in travel spending. Travel-generated employment decreased by 5.7 percent. Total state and local tax receipts generated by travel spending declined by 8.1 percent, and visitation in Arizona decreased by 7.5 percent. U.S. travel, by comparison, dropped 5.8 percent during this period. (For more details see Arizona Travel Impacts 1998-2009 July 2010, published by the Arizona Office of Tourism).
Creating Tomorrow’s Tourism Jobs
Arizona’s universities have good educational programs in place that support the tourism, recreation and hospitality industries. These programs can be vital to build tomorrow’s job force. We know that the scalability of tourism offers a unique array of opportunities for employment, from management on a global scale to entrepreneurial sales and service and we can leverage these opportunities through educational programs.
Bringing back pride in Arizona
Tourism helps us preserve our history and our culture. When we show our state to visitors, we show the best of ourselves – our Native American culture, grand canyons, mountain parks, art galleries and museums, golf courses, spas, resorts, attractions and shopping. In doing so, we feel proud to be Arizonans.
CHILDREN'S HEALTH CARE
This year, Arizona was the only state in the nation to refuse federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) money. In a decision that defies logic, Arizona taxpayers almost lost out on a four-to-one match in federal funds. Over 36,000 low income Arizona kids almost lost their health insurance. And thousands of Arizona families faced unnecessary trips to the emergency room and lost time from work to care for sick children. Terry Goddard won’t make that mistake. He’ll fight to protect Arizona families by keeping more kids insured, healthy and out of emergency rooms. He’ll make sure Arizona taxpayers receive their fair share of federal tax dollars. And he will never endanger the health of our children to make political points.