As we put away the holiday decorations and flip the calendar to 2010, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is putting the finishing touches on its annual Legislative Forecast Luncheon. At this signature event, we’ll hear from the state’s legislative leaders and formally launch the 2010 Business Agenda, which outlines the legislative priorities for business for the coming year.

The chamber’s focus this year will center on six main goals:

 

Resolving the immediate budget crisis and building a stronger economic future.

Arizona is facing a projected fiscal year deficit of more than $3 billion, and our state’s corporate tax structure is not as competitive as other states in the region. A stronger Arizona economy includes a state budget that’s back in the black and that puts in place longer-term reforms that promote diversification and re-investment.

 

Protecting workplace rights.

Arizona can’t claim to be home to a pro-jobs business environment if Big Labor usurps workers’ rights to a secret ballot in union elections and allows government bureaucrats to write labor contracts for private businesses.

 

Supporting regulatory accountability.

Businesses need a predictable regulatory environment in order to plan for future investment. The chamber supports continuing Gov. Jan Brewer’s moratorium on new rule making.

 

Eliminating public financing for the Clean Elections system.

In today’s struggling economy, the last things taxpayers should be asked to support are political campaigns.

 

Promoting globally competitive education.

A highly educated workforce attracts top-paying jobs. The chamber supports efforts to expand performance and merit-based pay for teachers and to encourage non-traditional teacher certification methods.

 

Requiring sound science in both the regulatory environment and the courtroom.

Increasing the standards by which scientific evidence is considered in court cases will go far in ensuring that rulings are based on sound science more than just slick lawyering.

 

These goals aren’t just a business community wish list; they are critical to ensuring that Arizona gets back on track in order to protect the jobs that are already here and to attract new ones.

Arizona is not just in a competition with other states to land top-flight jobs. The chamber’s 2010 agenda is a recognition that the fight to attract high-paying jobs in the second decade of the 21st century is one that spans the globe and that requires a tax structure, regulatory environment and education system that are working in concert to help Arizona reach its full potential.

 

Glenn Hamer is president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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