Monday marks the official beginning of Arizona’s 54th Legislature, as lawmakers make their way to the State Capitol for what promises to be another legislative session for the Arizona history books.
Opening Day at the Legislature is a lot like the first day of school: feelings of excitement and optimism, anxiety and uncertainty . . . and that special, fleeting moment of camaraderie and unity as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle come together to lay out their vision for the months ahead.
The session officially begins at noon with the swearing-in of all 90 legislators -- 20 of whom will be taking the oath of office for the first time.
The main event begins around 2 p.m., when Gov. Doug Ducey will deliver his fifth State of the State address, and the first of his second term. This is the Governor’s opportunity to outline his priorities and expectations for the coming year -- many of which he highlighted during his Inauguration Day address early this week.
Expect the No. 1 issue to be water, as Gov. Ducey calls on legislators to adopt an interstate Drought Contingency Plan to address an imminent water shortage on the Colorado River.
K-12 education will be high on the list, too. Following a session that saw the emergence of the #RedForEd movement, teacher strikes and the implementation of the Governor’s #20by2020 pay raise for public educators, the question on everyone’s mind is . . . what’s next? Look for the Governor to address Arizona’s teacher shortage, charter school reform and school safety among his priorities for public education.
Another safe bet: fiscal responsibility. Arizona is enjoying its largest surplus in a decade . . . but as the Governor noted in his inauguration remarks, “We’re not going on a spending spree.”
Monday will provide a snapshot of what’s in store for 2019, but expect the details to be unveiled on Friday when the Governor releases his Executive Budget.
Phoenix saw second-highest employment growth in 2018
Phoenix Business Journal
Employment in the Phoenix area grew 4.2 percent during 12-month period that ended Nov. 30, 2018 — the second highest percentage growth of all metros nationwide.
According to CBRE research and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Phoenix area gained 86,800 new jobs over the period. Meanwhile, in 2018, CBRE tracked 105 job announcements with a combined 28,000 new jobs projected to be created during the next one to three years.
[...] Maricopa County's median wage was $58,580 during 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
There were 105 job announcements during 2018, up from 77 in 2017 and 82 in 2016, Morin said, adding she expects the trend to continue into the new year as the economy continues to do well nationally and talent continues to migrate to Phoenix.
By sector, software and technology companies led the pack with 33 announcements last year followed by manufacturing with 32, banking/finance/insurance with 14, and health care with eight announcements, Morin wrote in the report.
Most of the biggest announcements were in high-demand submarkets on the east side of the Valley. The two biggest announcements of the year, each for 2,500 jobs, were from Deloitte and Allstate, which will be located in Gilbert and Chandler, respectively. Mayo Clinic announced it will add 2,000 new jobs and expand its north Phoenix campus, which was the second-largest job announcement of the year.
Read more HERE
Ducey pushes for bipartisanship, water reform in inaugural address
Arizona Capitol Times
Gov. Doug Ducey kicked off four more years as Arizona’s governor Monday by welcoming two Democrats into the ranks of statewide officeholders with a message of bipartisanship and working together, especially on urgent issues like adopting a multi-state drought contingency plan.
Ducey also pledged during Arizona’s inauguration ceremony, in which six statewide officeholders were sworn into four-year terms, to build on the economic progress of his first term and hold the late Sen. John McCain as an example of public service.
[...] State lawmakers have been tasked with adopting a multi-state drought contingency plan to stabilize water levels in the Colorado River as Lake Mead sits on the brink of a water shortage. Federal officials set a deadline for the seven Colorado River Basin states to adopt the plan that divvies up water cutbacks by Jan. 31. If they don’t, the Bureau of Reclamation will take matters into its own hands.
On several occasions, Ducey has expressed his commitment to passing the drought contingency plan, even committing $30 million in state dollars to help Arizona water interests weather water cutbacks in order to boost water levels in Lake Mead. But Ducey’s clear commitment to water reforms in his inaugural address hint at what may well be his top priority once the legislative session gavels in next week.
[...] “Arizona is open for business,” Ducey said. Government has gotten out of the way, the people are benefiting, and it’s going to stay that way.”
Ducey closed his speech with a nod to McCain and other former Arizona leaders — both Republicans and Democrats. He urged Arizona’s politicians to heed McCain’s motto of “country first” to create a state the late senator would be proud of.
[...] Four years ago, Republicans swept the statewide offices. Democrats Hobbs and Hoffman bring a new flavor to statewide elected offices and could create an environment of increased bipartisanship in state politics.
Read more HERE
House Democrats to introduce gun bill on anniversary of Gabrielle Giffords shooting
On the eighth anniversary of the day when then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and nearly assassinated, U.S. House Democrats are set to introduce legislation to expand background checks to nearly every gun sale.
Giffords, D-Ariz., who served in Congress from 2007 to 2012, is expected to join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at an event in Washington that signals political and social shifts on gun control after years of high-profile mass shootings with no significant political action to stop them.
[...] Supporters of the bill — including all five Democratic members of Arizona's House delegation — say the timing is a nod to Giffords and other survivors of gun violence. It will be called H.R. 8, will call for near-universal background checks for gun sales, and according to the Washington Post, will not address an assault weapons ban.
[...] Kirkpatrick has said that shooting helped convince her of the need for more stringent gun control measures.
[...] Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., who now represents Kirkpatrick's former, more-moderate district, also plans to co-sponsor the Pelosi bill, as do fellow Reps. Raúl Grijalva, Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton, also D-Ariz.
[...] The National Rifle Association on its website said Monday it remains solidly opposed to legislation to expand background checks as it would have "little real impact" in preventing massacres.
Read more HERE
Veridus clients in the news
TEP donates $85k to teachers for classroom needs
Thanks to a $85,000 donation from Tucson Electric Power, teachers in the area will be able to buy basic and essential supplies for their classrooms.
[...] “Many teachers spend $500 or more of their own money each year on basic school supplies such as paper, pencils, highlighters and dry erase markers,” TVT Chief Operations Officer Katie Rogerson said. “TEP’s generous donation will help cover those costs and allow teachers to make more supplies available to children whose families cannot afford them.”
In addition to its collaboration with TEP, TVT also works with Pima Federal Credit Union, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, and Vantage West Credit Union to raise funds for the Tucson Supplies Teachers program. Since the program began in 2009, more than $1 million has been raised for classroom supplies.
Read more HERE
ICYMI: Veridus Director Matthew Benson Honored as Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce "Rising Star"
Congratulations to our own Matthew Benson, who was honored this week at the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce's 2019 Business Volunteer Awards. Matt was recognized with this year's Mark F. Eberle Rising Star Award for his service as Chair of the Chamber board's Public Policy Advisory Council. Congrats, Matt!