Posted by: Donna
Kathleen Ingley is one of my favorite writers at the AZ Republic and her op-ed today is a must read. It’s a clear and concise accounting of how decades of tax cuts, gimmicks, and fiscal foolishness have brought Arizona to our current economic misfortune. And she doesn’t blame Clean Elections, for which she gets several brownie points.
But she does this thing that a lot of political observers here do which is starting to drive me up a wall:
Arizona’s race to the bottom isn’t going unnoticed. Last month, former Intel Chief Executive and board Chairman Craig Barrett warned that “cutbacks don’t bode well” for the quality education essential to attracting companies like his. If Intel were site-hunting now, “I hate to say it, but I think Arizona would not be in the top 10 locales to make that investment.”
Business leaders must be part of setting the state back on course. They successfully united to oppose the Legislature’s latest package of misguided, counterproductive immigration measures.
It’s not as if these business leaders were helpless passive bystanders to the debacle. They orchestrated it. Everything. They sent the armies of lobbyists to get the tax cuts and the loopholes for their industries. Craig Barrett, whom liberals are swooning over because of his statement on education, was CEO of Intel in 2005 when the company demanded, and received, a massive break called Single Sales Factor. Intel threatened to relocate a planned Chandler factory expansion (a hollow threat since doing so would have been incredibly expensive for the company) to another state if Arizona didn’t give them a 95% cut on their corporate sales tax. The JLBC projected that the move would cost Arizona $100 million.
As for the business community opposing the recent immigration measures, that made for impressive kabuki theater I suppose, but I will never forget how SB1070 went down last year. Contrary to popular lore, SB1070 wasn’t something Russell Pearce dreamed up with nativist Kris Kobach and then foisted on an unsuspecting business community. SB1070 was model legislation from ALEC and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which is a board level member of both ALEC and the AZ Chamber, played a big role in crafting it. After Pearce stripped employer unfriendly language out of the bill, the Chamber went publicly “neutral” on SB1070. They went on to endorse pro SB1070 Republicans for every statewide seat. The biggest industries in Arizona were hardly innocent bystanders. SB1070 came straight from business and was intended to benefit a certain business (private prisons) and Republican politicians. Mission accomplished, as the Republicans swept the 2010 elections and prisons were one of few areas of state spending to get a budget increase.
Speaking of ALEC, I’ve been meaning to do a longer post about them and hopefully I’ll get to it but here’s a useful link that shows the GOP/Big Business blueprint for state legislatures – ALEC Budget Toolkit. It’s scary stuff and Arizona has been a breeding ground for it.
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