Focus on the Future
The first challenge that Arizona faces is keeping its focus on its inevitable growth. All one need do is look at a weather map of the United States to determine whether or not we will grow.
Arizona has a richness and vitality that many people want; as more people move their families and businesses here we must prepare for their arrival and the growth they will bring.
In all of the decisions that government at every level makes it must consider what life in Arizona will be like ten, twenty and fifty years from now. Whether we are thinking about healthcare, transportation, water, immigration, economic development, education or energy we must consider the impact of today's decisions on those who will follow us.
The best investment in education we can make is ensuring that the youngest of us have access to quality day care, pre-school and early enrichment. While we concentrate on creating accountability in our public school systems the truth is that the biggest 'bang for the buck' will come when we invest in early education for all of our children, rich and poor alike. The vast majority of our academic problems will fade away if we invest early and significantly in this effort. Our myopic focus on testing and rewarding and punishing schools and teachers is a distraction from the most important investment we can make.
While we are making progress to ensure that all Arizonans have access to affordable healthcare coverage, there is much work ahead of us. The Medicaid expansion enacted by the Legislature last year was a remarkable achievement. Even with the new legislation, we have gaping holes in coverage, including oral health care and preventative care like immunizations and early cancer screening.
Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. We have to ensure that all Arizonans have access to affordable and quality care. We must continue to invest in healthcare infrastructure like our community health centers, graduate medical education and medical support professions.
We must ensure that our focus is on making the border an economic enterprise zone and not a war zone. Consumers from Mexico spend millions of dollars a day in Arizona and we can increase that amount tenfold simply by making Arizona a hospitable and friendly place for visitors and immigrants to come.
We will need the labor that immigrants provide in increasing numbers in years to come. We must work with the federal government to ensure access to this vital resource of labor in the years ahead. Together we will improve healthcare, law enforcement and business development along the border.
Water is the desert's gold. We must make ensuring our access to water among our highest priorities. We have to improve our conservation, recycling and collection of water if future generations of Arizonans will have a fighting chance at maintaining a vibrant lifestyle.
We should be the solar capital of the world. In addition, we should invest now in geothermal and wind energy to wean ourselves off coal as quickly as possible. We should encourage innovation and proliferation of solar energy products not only for use in Arizona but also for export around the world. In concert with our universities and the private sector, Arizona should be and will be an emerging leader in the development of alternative energy.
Accessible and reliable transportation is a central antidote to poverty. If people cannot commute easily, timely and reliably they will be unable to expand their horizons educationally and vocationally. Our future depends on our ability to develop a robust modern transportation system that is both multimodal and convenient.
Economic development is intertwined with all of Arizona's challenges. It includes preschool, K-12, community college and university funding. It is very dependent upon our capacity to invest in the infrastructure of the state, including its highways, light rail, energy and water accessibility.
It relies on an innovative spirit that is encouraged in part by a flexible tax structure that rewards growth and expansion of new and existing industries, particularly in the areas of aerospace, bioscience, optics and clean energy.
Economic Development is tied directly to our proximity to Mexico and our capacity to monetize that relationship with exports to all of Central and South America. We have to invest in our mobility in order to get products to and from Mexico expeditiously so that they can be transported throughout the United States. The CANAMEX corridor should be a high priority in our planning for the future. Mexico should be our number one business partner, not an enemy.