Gov. Jan Brewer in Payson on Wednesday offered a campaign-style speech that mingled vigorous attacks on the federal government with praise for a recently enacted package of business incentives intended to jump-start the state’s sputtering economy.
“The economy and jobs, that’s the bottom line, that’s it,” Brewer told some 250 Republicans gathered for the Gila County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Luncheon at Tiny’s Restaurant.
She said Arizona must fight to free itself from federal regulations and requirements and insist the feds seal the state’s porous border with Mexico.
“We have allowed the federal government to mushroom out of control. Now the federal bureaucracy can dictate where to build a bridge or lay a sewer line,” she said.
Brewer also touted Intel’s decision to build the world’s largest computer chip manufacturing plant in Chandler and a recently enacted package of business reforms that would cut the corporate tax rate by 30 percent and offer new businesses an array of incentives to set up shop in Arizona.
“This marks the rebirth of Arizona,” she said of the package and the establishment of the Arizona Commerce Authority, run by business leaders and lawmakers to recruit new businesses and dole out money from a $25 million deal-closing fund.
The package of incentives would give businesses tax credits averaging $9,000 for each new job created and also lower the state’s corporate tax rate from the current, middling 6.8 percent to 4.9 percent by 2018, which would make it the fifth lowest in the nation. Another part of the program would provide seed money for new businesses.
Legislative budget analysts predict the package will cut state revenues by between $400 million and $538 million annually.
John Arnold, director of the Governor's Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, said in an Arizona Republic story that lower tax rates will attract new business investments, making up for the lost revenue.
Brewer largely avoided a discussion of deep cuts in state spending included in her recently proposed budget, including a fresh 20 percent cut in state support for universities and a 70 percent cut in spending on community colleges. Per-student spending on K-12 education has declined to 2006 levels and remains among the lowest in the nation.
The governor vowed to continue her battle with the federal government to both cut the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants across the border and remove federal regulations and mandates — including health care reforms that would force a major increase in the number of people on the state’s Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
“Arizona must cut loose from the unconstitutional and unfunded health care mandate and restore our borders.”
She said the state must struggle to free itself from “outdated, unnecessary federal regulations.” Arizona has joined with more than 26 other states to challenge a law requiring people to get health insurance and expanding the mostly federally funded Medicaid program. A federal judge in Florida has ruled the newly enacted health care law is unconstitutional.
Brewer said the states must insist on the birth of a “new federalism” to reject federal programs and regulations.
“Naysayers are saying ‘slow down.’ But I have no intention of slowing down. This isn’t the time to be timid. We have embraced a fundamental idea they have abandoned in Washington — it’s called governing with the consent of the governed.”
Brewer drew frequent applause from the overflow audience of mostly Republican Party members. She seemed to revel in the friendly crowd, growing more animated as her speech progressed. At one point she noted with satisfaction that she’d swept Gila County with 65 percent of the vote.
She trumpeted Intel’s decision to build a $5 billion chip manufacturing plant, which will provide thousands of jobs. She said the new Commerce Authority will use the expertise of corporate CEOs to lure new businesses to the state, replacing the “ineffective” commerce department.
“So many CEOs and so many presidents (of companies) have their eyes on us,” said Brewer. “So that our people have the money to keep our economy moving, we will be relentless.”
She also praised the state law requiring local police to enforce federal immigration laws by asking people they stop to show proof of citizenship. That controversial state law effectively turned her once-faltering election campaign into a cakewalk.
“We’re standing firm,” she said. “No doubt about it. The federal government needs to do its job. It’s not just about Arizona, it’s about America — when it comes to securing our borders.”
She took several shots at her predecessor — Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, who resigned partway through her second term to become Secretary of Homeland Security.
Brewer made a reference to the attempt by the Republican governor of Wisconsin to pass a law to restrict some of the collective bargaining rights of public employees in that state.
Brewer said Napolitano had signed a “meet and confer” executive order just before leaving, committing the incoming governor to meeting with employee representatives to talk about salaries, benefits and working conditions.
“She threw it in my lap and waved ‘bye, bye,’” said Brewer, who noted that she revoked the executive order several months later. Brewer hailed Arizona’s status as a “right to work” state, which limits the clout of unions by saying contracts can’t require workers to belong to a union.
“We do not have collective bargaining, we do not have meet and confer,” said Brewer. “Arizona will be leading the country in the direction we should go.”