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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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2/10/2013 10:08:00 PM
Legislators tout work that helps Arizona economy
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT VALLEY - State economic development legislation has helped Arizona recover by increasing business competitiveness, Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin told people attending an Arizona Association for Economic Development gathering in Prescott Valley Friday afternoon.

Arizona rose from being the 9th most competitive state for businesses to the 4th most competitive in just two years, said Tobin, a Republican from Paulden.

"That is now what's fueling our job growth," he said after using a PowerPoint presentation to list nine successful pieces of Republican legislation in 2011 and 2012. They included a drop in the commercial property tax rate, corporate income tax rate and capital gains tax rate; an R&D tax credit; and a job creation tax credit. This year legislators are working on an R&D tax credit for small businesses and a lower commercial property tax classification, he said, and other proposals are in the works.

Arizona lost about 300,000 jobs since 2007 and has gained about one-third back, he said. The state is number one in the country for new business start-ups, he added.

"I don't think that gets around in the press," he said.

Health care is the biggest issue affecting the Legislature this year, said Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott.

Pierce said he pledged to help Gov. Jan Brewer gain legislative support for expansion of Medicaid to get more federal dollars.

"I think this is an economic decision for the state," he said.

The state will get an extra $2 billion annually in federal dollars to insure about 300,000 more people by providing Medicaid to anyone earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the governor's plan.

Hospitals will cover the state's $154 million share and still save money, because hospitals that accept any federal dollars must otherwise provide free emergency room care to poor people who don't have insurance or Medicaid. Hospitals pass those costs onto people with insurance, Tobin said.

"I think it's time we step up and do what we can to help hospitals," Pierce said.

Tobin didn't express direct support but said Brewer is "brave" for her proposal.

Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, was unable to attend Friday's event because of previous commitments.

Other federal activities aren't helping Arizona's economy, Tobin charged.

"We move five steps forward and the feds move us three steps back," he said. He cited lack of Congressional approval of a land exchange for the proposed Resolution Copper mine in southeast Arizona, new expensive clean air requirements on the Navajo Generating Station, and a payroll tax increase that will cost the average Arizona family about $900 annually.

"That's the one that hurts the most," he said.

The legislators also cited education and water as important to the state economy. Tobin said the state needs to commit a billion dollars to support water infrastructure development for future needs outlined by a committee he created.

City council members from Prescott, Prescott Valley, Williams, and Cottonwood attended Friday's forum alongside economic development officials.

Prescott City Council Member Chris Kuknyo said a state task force's recommendations to simplify the state's sales tax system would hurt rural communities. Charging sales taxes on construction materials at the point of sale instead of in the city where the building is taking place could cut $1.5 million from Prescott's revenues, he said.

Tobin said he's on record opposing that part of the sales tax reform, but the state needs to close loopholes. There will be amendments to the task force proposal, Pierce added.

Fann has been an important voice in this issue, they said, because of her experience as a mayor as well as a construction contractor.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: Mr Maverick

What BS. The movie industry used to film here a lot. Since the State does not encourage their business anymore they have done awaay with any incentives. This is the fault of our own State Rep. Pierce. If one word was changed on a bill in our legistature was changed tens of thousdands of Arizonaian on unemployment would continue to get benefits. They refused to pass this bill which would have cost the State nothing. So much for how they 'care' about us. I could go on about the quality of our legistative leaders but do not have the time to expose all their crimes. With our crooked police department who do you call when in trouble?

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: john Dough

What a joke. De-fund education. De-fund healthcare. Support SB1070. More people in jail/prison. The rich get richer, the poor stay poor. Just how Tobin wants it. Arizona is embarrassing to the rest of the world!

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Confused

Look! Republicans embracing federal spending for the benefit of the people. Is that conservative enough?

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: get real...

Of course, what is not being mentioned is that the legislature cut educational funding by 25% so that corporations could get their welfare check (in the form of tax reductions) from the state.

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: All this, before tomorrows SOU

So, in a nutshell, all the money invested in my underground bunker would have been better spent on repairing my septic system.

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: Really? ??

The Arizona Economy is currently ranked 48th out of 50. Take a bow legislature.

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: Just So You Know

The article states "hospitals that accept any federal dollars must otherwise provide free emergency room care to poor people who don't have insurance or Medicaid", this statement is not directly attributed to Representative Tobin, so I assume it is from the writer of the article. The statement is not a FACTUAL statement. If a "poor person" is trweated in the ER he or she will be billed like everybody else.

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Good as far as it goes. Voters mistakenly turned down a proposition last November that would have freed up small business growth in Arizona.

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013
Article comment by: some old guy

Andy how about pushing some of that water infrastructure north to Prescott? And how about shifting some of the jobs to Prescott and northern AZ? There is more to AZ then Phoenix but every elected rep. seems to forget that and only sees Phoenix once they get into office. Maybe it's time for Northern AZ to go it's own way and take its water with us. Phoenix is not the center of the universe.

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