Economy & Jobs

Arizona is at a crossroads; the decisions we make in the next few years will affect not just our economy and our environment, but the quality of life that our children and we will enjoy for decades to come.

Our struggling economy needs a strong, steady hand from the Legislature, and leadership which embraces, and advocates for, bold new initiatives that will stimulate economic growth by giving Arizona a head start on the high-tech industries of the future. These industries will create sustainable, high paying jobs that will be around for a long time to come, and will motivate our workforce with real opportunities for advancement and innovation. As these jobs should and will provide a living wage, our economy will be further strengthened by these workers's spending.

Our economy can only benefit from, and our citizens need, a single-payer health care system (Medicare for All). This will help small businesses and high tech start-ups, become more competitive, as they won't be burdened by escalating and unpredictable insurance costs. And, it's just the right thing to do for Arizonans.

We need a Legislature that makes fiscal decisions that benefit the average citizen, instead of decisions that gratify the special interests motivated by profit-at-any-cost, and by obscure personal agendas. We need a Legislature that understands basic budgetary and economic principles, and that isn’t afraid to make hard decisions during both good and bad economic times. We need a legislature that doesn’t meddle in the local economic affairs of our counties, cities and towns. And lastly, we need a legislature that does not interfere with or hinder economic recovery and job creation, whether through irresponsible fiscal planning or through actions such as passage of SB1070, which may well result in economic boycotts against Arizona Businesses, tourism and travel, and damage the good name of the state.

Kent Solberg and Arky

We are currently living through the worst economic crisis since most of us have been alive. State government spending can and should be the catalyst towards recovery. State government spending can help prop up a slowing economy and during those inevitable downturns citizens can rely on consistent government programs and services which are particularly needed during those slower times. Crucial government services are not luxuries, which we can only afford during good times; they are most important, and need more funding if at all possible, during bad times, as there are so many more needy people.

This is just the opposite of what is happening (see section on Legislature – It’s Time To Fix It!). Our Legislature cut taxes too much during the more prosperous times, instead of saving surpluses for a rainy day. Now Arizona is short of money and running a deficit; by law however, the budget must be balanced each year. Cutting state spending now, during an extreme economic downturn, only makes the long-term recovery more difficult. Balancing the budget by denying services to the most needy and denying funds to build the future to our schools and universities is both unethical and unwise. And cutting state spending now only makes the long-term recovery more difficult.

We can do so much better than this!

Sustainable economic development requires an atmosphere where people have the confidence to invest themselves in exploring innovative ideas and creating unique businesses, some of which will become the economic juggernauts of the future. This requires a serious partnership between the public and private sectors. It needs government, including our great university system, to cooperate and partner to advance these opportunities. It is clear that the new industries and jobs of the 2010’s will be green energy and industries. The folly of continued dependence on fossil fuel, that we are rapidly running out, which has become too dangerous or costly to extract, energy found mostly other parts of the world that are unfriendly to us, and which is causing monumental problems of global warming and climate change, will have to be curtailed and soon. This fact is becoming obvious to almost everyone, even the most rabid opponents of change.

The new industries of the coming decade will be green energy and related innovations, much like high tech, computers, and the Internet were the growth areas of the 1980’s and 1990’s or the space program was for the 1960’s. Neither the personal computer nor the Internet would have come into being without government investment in R&D and if it weren't for cool heads prevailing in the early 1960's, we never would have reached the moon. These decisions cannot be left to the federal government alone; Arizona can, and must, assert itself to lay an early claim on the future.

The chief opportunities for economic growth in the coming decades, it's clear, are in the adaptation of both existing and forthcoming renewable energy technologies on an industrial scale. In 2010, the economic future of our nation rests on its ability to use its intellectual capital to create a sustainable energy economy. Arizona has been called the Saudi Arabia of solar power in that we are blessed with this wonderful, clean, and untapped source of energy just waiting to be used to supply our needs and ease the energy and warming crisis. Our great University system and our first-class entrepreneurs, if partnered with a farsighted Legislature, could easily move our state to stand at the cutting edge of the new energy economy. Extending tax credits and infusing more state money into research and development at our universities will result in more “homegrown” energy, decreased costs to individuals and small businesses, a cleaner environment, and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of high-paying jobs for Arizonans. Energy produced locally, and used locally, will create jobs that can never be exported - building a strong steady economic future for our children and ourselves. If Arizona embraces and capitalizes on the clean and endless energy of the sun, we will have a sunny future for generations.

Key infrastructure improvements such as high-speed rail service, starting with connections between Phoenix and Tucson and later expanded, will be a boon to economic growth and could easily be designed to run on some of that cheap, clean, solar energy produced right here in Arizona. But modern hi-tech projects require close cooperation between state government, financiers, and industries that are willing to invest in Arizona, as opposed to California, Oregon, or Texas. The difficult decisions about where to invest resources are necessarily depend on cost-benefit analyses of the economic, political, and cultural climate. Currently, Arizona is both uniquely positioned, and simultaneously vulnerable to, these assessments. Let's go through them:

Beautiful location and climate? We've got that, clearly. Availability of reasonably cost-stable energy supplies? We could easily provide that. Talented and innovative people? Some of the brightest people in America call the Tucson area home. Cooperative and fair-minded government? Well, here we need a good deal of work. A well educated population? Again, we need a lot of improvement.

We do have world-class universities, but they are endangered by lack of support and budget cuts. Our K-12 public school system leaves much to be desired (see section on Our Schools). But it’s not too late to turn this around, and to make the investments we need to make to ensure our state's vitality.

Over-dependence on the economic benefits of continued population growth, seasonal tourism, and military installations makes our economy uniquely vulnerable during these hard times. This is not to say that Kent is against tourism or development. But the need for a new, modern economic infrastructure that can withstand fluctuating economies, and exist symbiotically with our precious resources of air, water and land is both an economic and a moral imperative. We need to push more for more modern, hi-tech, sustainable development and to wean ourselves off of the industries of the past.

The State legislature should stop meddling in the local affairs of our Cities and Counties. In recent years the State Legislature has become much too involved in the Rio Nuevo project in Tucson (see the section on Legislature – It’s Time To Fix It!). The bottom line is that this project has been terribly wasteful and ineffective. It is too bad the Legislature has not allowed the voters of Tucson the opportunity to make their own decision, most likely to drop this project. Rio Nuevo is a major development (or lack of development) that affects Legislative District 27. As a resident of Tucson, a small business owner, and a potential Legislator, Kent encourages city planners to invest in smaller, more locally oriented projects, instead of the pie-in-the-sky mega-projects that hope to make Tucson competitive with cities that have far greater resources and populations, such as San Diego and Phoenix. We can’t compete successfully with the big boy cities. The goal should be sustainable, small-scale, and locally focused development, not the corporate-welfare projects which are giveaways to developers and corporations, and that give us the customary tourism jobs with low wages. We need to invest in new businesses and industries that promise high-skilled jobs, which will necessarily provide a living wage.

Rio Nuevo, as we all know, has been languishing for so many years; it would be great to see something finally built in our lifetimes!!! But just building anything won’t do, we need to build things that will make downtown more enjoyable and beneficial for the whole Tucson metro area and which will stimulate greater economic development and good jobs.

As a small-business owner, Kent believes that Arizona businesses would be made more competitive both locally and nationally if our Legislature implemented a single-payer health care plan - Medicare for All! Runaway healthcare costs, which are either borne by small business owners severely hinder the economic expansion of local businesses; these healthcare costs are a serious drain on our economy. Arizonans need a Legislature that uses its power to benefit the average citizen, that works to improve the climate for Arizona businesses, and that ceases to coddle profit-obsessed special interests, in this case insurance companies, over the interests of the majority of its constituents.

Kent will embody the bold new leadership that we need, and will focus like a laser beam on fixing Arizona’s budgetary boom-and-bust cycles, and will work with his fellow legislators to achieve the goals outlined here. He will work to rebuild the confidence of investors in our state, so that Arizona will soon shine as a state in the forefront of the inevitable changes in our economic system that will produce the new prosperity of the 21st century. Kent will work to create a Legislature that will make wise and compassionate decisions, in both good times and bad. (Back to Home Page)