$101.1M Invested In ‘Visit Arizona Initiative’ To Boost Tourism

$101.1M Invested In ‘Visit Arizona Initiative’ To Boost Tourism

Governor Doug Ducey this week announced $101.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative, a bold program designed to increase visitation and tourism spending in Arizona, bolster job creation and accelerate economic recovery.

“Tourism is essential for Arizona’s booming economy and job growth,” said Governor Ducey. “When visitors from across the globe travel to our great state, they stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, buy our products and enjoy our recreational activities. Their investments benefit Arizonans, and the Visit Arizona Initiative will help our tourism sector prosper — and continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic. My thanks goes to Arizona Office of Tourism Director Debbie Johnson for her dedication to growing tourism throughout the state and supporting Arizonans employed by the travel industry.”

As it did globally, the tourism industry in Arizona endured losses in visitation, visitor spending, tourism tax revenue and employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of federal American Rescue Plan money will assist communities across the state in recovery through tourism marketing, event and attraction support, and outdoor recreation revitalization.

Arizona’s 2020 overnight visitation decreased by 31 percent and visitor spending decreased by 41 percent compared to 2019 numbers, according to recent data. But with this investment and the effectiveness of Arizona’s visitor marketing, Arizona will stay top of mind for travelers.

“Thousands of Arizonans who work in the tourism industry were displaced due to the pandemic. Now that our economy is strong, jobs are readily available and visitors are coming to our beautiful state, we are making sure employment opportunities continue to grow for hard workers across Arizona,” the Governor said.

The Visit Arizona Initiative includes marketing funding for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) statewide, reinvigorating local community programs and events, and marketing support for domestic and international flights and outdoor recreation.

“We are grateful for the investment Governor Ducey is making in our state’s tourism industry, which contributes to the economic vitality of communities and people all across Arizona,” said Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The new funding is being warmly received by officials in communities all across Arizona where tourism is an important part of the economy.

“Arizona is a world-class destination and is ready to welcome visitors from around the world to explore our great state. The tourism recovery fund is an investment in a vital economic driver and will benefit all areas of the state,” said Cal Sheehy, Mayor of Lake Havasu City. “We applaud Governor Ducey’s commitment to the tourism economy statewide.”

The Initiative also provides funding to the Arizona State Parks & Trails for park revitalization and improvement, legacy golf course revitalization, the Arizona State Fair for marketing, the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association for a workforce initiative and Local First for rural destination development.

“COVID-19 had multiple impacts on our state’s destinations,” said Bill Nassikas, President & COO of Westroc Hospitality. “This funding comes at a crucial time of our recovery, as we reinvigorate Arizona’s tourism economy and welcome back visitors to our great state. Governor Ducey’s forethought will help keep Arizona tourism competitive on the national stage.”

AOT, along with statewide tourism stakeholders, continues to promote visitation and support industry recovery across Arizona. These efforts include visitor marketing campaigns, supporting industry partners and communities with strategic recovery planning and promoting sustainable and responsible tourism. The new Visit Arizona Initiative will ensure these programs continue and grow to meet the needs of the industry.

Pima County Democrats’ Tweet Implies Men Should Be The Lone Bread Winner Per Household

Pima County Democrats’ Tweet Implies Men Should Be The Lone Bread Winner Per Household

By Corinne Murdock |

A Pima County Democratic Party tweet sparked outrage this week when it implied only men would be working if families could live on the wages of one working parent per household. The tweet targeted the Republican’s newest entry into the U.S. Senate race, Blake Masters.

Masters asserted that an individual’s wages should be enough to support an entire household in his campaign’s first ad. After naming various threats to the country – China, the media, corporatism, the border crisis, and Big Tech – Masters asserted that the economy should be healthy enough for families to thrive on a single income.

“We’ve got to build an economy where you can afford to raise a family on one single income,” said Masters. “And instead of pretending that we can somehow fix foreign countries, we’ve got to take care of each other, right here at home.”

In response, the Pima County Democratic Party tweeted:

“‘We need to build an economy where you can afford to raise a family on one single income’ is code for: women should not work,” wrote the Democrats. “#Qnuts #Handmaiden #UnderHisEye #BizarroAd #AZGQP #Bonkers.”

One twitter user, “shoe,” noted the irony of the dems’ attack:

Shoe @shoe0nhead

the future is republicans calling for higher wages and democrats calling it sexist

Another user responded to @shoe:

Jason K @PotatomanJ1

What if…just hear me out…the woman worked and the dad stayed at home?

Later that day, Masters shot back at the Pima County Democratic Party. He retorted that the Democrats’ remarks signified that they’d rather have kids penned up in schools all day while both parents are forced to work.

“In @PimaDems’ ideal world, every kid sits at school 12 hours a day so that every parent can work a mind-numbing corporate job in the name of ‘progress’ – pass,” wrote Masters. “‘*Every single parents* working or else we’re oppressed!’ lol, what happened to the Left? (Also, a lot of single mothers are trying to support a family on a single income. That should be harder for the sake of… what? What are Pima Dems really saying here?)”

Per their official party platform adopted in 2019, the Pima County Democratic Party says that they support increased individual wages. They call for a livable $15 minimum wage that rises with inflation, as well as a universal basic income.

Masters, the CEO of the investment firm Thiel Capital, announced his run to unseat Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) on Monday. Masters joins the race alongside Attorney General Mark Brnovich and energy executive Jim Lamon.

Masters may have an edge in earning President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Masters’ boss Peter Thiel – founder of Thiel Capital, PayPal co-founder and former CEO, and first outside investor and director in Facebook – donated $10 million to Masters’ campaign. It was also Thiel who spoke in favor of Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Ohio.

Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to corinnejournalist@gmail.com.

$101.1M Invested In ‘Visit Arizona Initiative’ To Boost Tourism

Governor Signs Tax Cut For Small Business Bill

Senate Bill 1783, legislation that further reduces and streamlines taxes, was signed by Governor Doug Ducey on Friday. Sen. JD Mesnard and Rep. Ben Toma led the fight for the bill in order to protect small businesses from the threat of a 77 percent tax increase.

“This tax cut will keep Arizona competitive for small businesses already operating here and new businesses flocking here every day,” Ducey said in a press release. “After a year as tough as the last, we should not be raising taxes on our small businesses — we should be cutting their taxes. That’s exactly what Senate Bill 1783 does. Arizona has now passed the largest tax cut in state history and will have the lowest flat tax in the country. My thanks go out to Senator J.D. Mesnard and Representative Ben Toma for their leadership on this issue.”

Senate Bill 1783 establishes a new and lower alternative small business income tax structure. Under the plan, “small business income” is defined as interest, dividends, profits and certain capital gains.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and integral to the future success of our state,” Mesnard said. “Small businesses should be able to grow and reinvest in themselves without being forced to pay astronomical taxes. Rather, government should get out of the way so that they can thrive. That’s why I’m so grateful for the support of Governor Ducey and my colleagues in the Legislature.”

This tax relief will ensure small businesses continue to choose Arizona to start, expand or relocate operations. Small businesses are a core component of our state’s economy, making up more than 99 percent of Arizona’s businesses and employing more than one million people. Because of the structure of the 3.5 percent surcharge on individual income tax under Proposition 208, small businesses will not be subject to this crippling tax hike.

“It’s a no-brainer to have a separate tax structure for small businesses,” said Toma. “It should be our goal as public servants to make filing taxes easier for Arizonans. This session has been a massive win for Arizona taxpayers. Thank you to the governor and the many who supported this bill.”

The bill allows taxpayers to exclude small business income from their total individual income. Instead, small business income will be subject to an alternate small business income tax. A flat tax on small business income will phase in over time:

  • 3.5 percent in 2021
  • 3.0 percent in 2022
  • 2.8 percent in 2023 and 2024
  • 2.5 percent in and after 2025

Governor Ducey signed this year’s budget on June 30, which fulfills his commitment to ensuring working families, small businesses, veterans and all Arizona taxpayers get to keep more of their hard-earned money.

The budget implements the largest tax cut in state history. Arizona taxpayers will see a 2.5 percent flat tax phased in over three years and subject to certain revenue thresholds being met beginning on January 1, 2022. The tax plan saves money for every Arizona taxpayer no matter their income, eliminates income taxes on veterans’ military pensions, and increases the optional charitable contribution deduction over time to 100 percent.

The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published columns about the tax plan and the positive effects it will have on Arizona. Additionally, Governor Ducey, Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers authored a joint op-ed about the historic tax reform in the Phoenix Business Journal.

AZ Board Of Regents Chair Lauds Higher Ed Budget Bill

AZ Board Of Regents Chair Lauds Higher Ed Budget Bill

By Terri Jo Neff |

Chairman Larry E. Penley of the Arizona Board of Regents has high praise for the investment made by Gov. Doug Ducey and the State Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget passed last week which recognizes the role the state’s three public universities play in Arizona’s economic wellness.

“This spending plan invests in Arizona’s competitiveness by supporting public university instruction, research and development, especially in the key growth sectors of health care, the sciences, biomedicine and engineering,” Penley recently said. “State funding also will assist ongoing efforts by Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona to meet the needs of a growing number of Arizona students.”

The 12 members of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) serve as the governing board for Arizona’s three public universities – Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona. The board is tasked with providing policy guidance for nearly every aspect of the university system, including capital development plans, strategic plans, and legal affairs.

The regents also set policy related to financial and human resource programs; academic and student affairs; public outreach; and the all-important student tuition, fees, and financial aid programs.

The main Higher Education budget bill, SB1825, involved more than just funding appropriations. Among other things, it requires the UA cooperative extension office to establish an Agricultural Workforce Development Program to provide incentives to food-producing agricultural organizations to hire apprentices.

“As Arizona emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, focus shifts toward ensuring our state is ready for the challenges of a New Economy increasingly built on the innovation, adaptability and skills of our workforce,” Penley said.

Another SB1825 provision allows the three state universities to offer pro bono assistance to claimants in the general stream adjudication of water rights if the claimants are small landowners and not represented by counsel.

The legislation also calls for ABOR to administer and implement a Promise Program to provide financial assistance to students in a baccalaureate degree who qualify for in-state student status, graduated from an Arizona high school with a qualifying grade point average, and meet eligibility criteria for the Federal Pell Grant.

“With the state’s initial investment in the board’s Arizona Promise Program scholarship, qualifying low-income Arizona students will have their tuition and fees paid in full to attend the Arizona public university of their choice,” Penley said. “The value of a university degree has never been higher, and this program represents our promise that cost won’t be a barrier to any deserving Arizona student.”

ABOR will take on yet another new responsibility thanks to the budget bill.  On Jan. 1, 2022, the statutory duties of the Commission for Postsecondary Education and the e Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program will be transferred to ABOR.

State law designates the governor and the superintendent of public instruction -currently Kathy Hoffman- as ex-officio ABOR members along with two student regents who serve two-year terms. The other regents serve eight-year terms after being appointed by a governor and confirmed by a majority of the 30-member state senate.

In addition to Penley, the current regents are Fred DuVal, Kathryn Hackett King, Lyndel Manson, Cecilia Mata, Bill Ridenour, Ron Shoopman, and Karrin Taylor Robson. ASU student Nikhil Dave is serving as a student regent until 2022; the second student regent seat is currently vacant, according to the ABOR website.

Next up for the ABOR is a Sept. 9 meeting of the Finance, Capital and Resources Committee as well as the Academic Affairs and Educational Attainment Committee.

The Biden Administration Spenders

The Biden Administration Spenders

By Dr. Tom Patterson |

The Biden/Harris administration is ignoring established budget tradition in their determination to spend yet more money.

Since the Reagan era, each federal budget has included a list of achievable spending cuts. The final Obama/Biden budget boasted of their averaging 140 cuts, saving $22 billion, yearly.  Then-VP Biden  headed up these cost cutting efforts as he did the spending reductions in the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Obama praised Biden‘s leadership in the Campaign to Cut Waste, calling him “the right man to lead it because nobody messes with Sheriff Joe.”

So Biden was justified in campaigning on his record of cost-cutting, which he did (although overall spending never fell during his tenure). But, as we have seen on almost every front, the rhetoric of candidate Biden meant nothing.

His initial budget was the first in 40 years to not include a section on savings. Instead, he withdrew President Trump’s final 73 rescissions, which would have saved taxpayers $24.4 billion, including several, such as the Commission on Fine Arts and the Presidio Trust, that had been included in earlier Obama/Biden reductions.  His address to Congress in April in lieu of the SOTU contained no mention of waste reduction, nor has any other communication so far.

The contrast is striking. In 2011, President Obama proposed a $4 trillion deficit reduction over 12 years. We now know he fell far short of the mark, yet 10 years later, President Biden proposed a $14.5 trillion increase in deficits over 10 years.  Success seems quite probable this time.

What’s going on here? Biden’s inference that there is no waste available in federal spending is laughable. State and local governments are awash in newfound largess. Unemployed beneficiaries have received so much compensation that millions have understandably quit their jobs.

Americans in no financial stress, nursing home residents and dead people by the millions have received COVID stimulus checks. Meanwhile, the Department of Education, an inconsequential agency that has overseen the decline of American education at all levels despite a massive funding surge, was given a $67 billion boost.

The tsunami of spending is relentless. Our national debt has now reached $28 trillion, including a 30 percent increase from spending on the Covid shutdowns alone. Federal spending this fiscal year is about $8 trillion, fully half of which will be put on the tab.

Biden’s next budget is $6 trillion, plus $6 trillion or so of additional spending on anticipated campaign promises. If  Biden’s budget plan is adopted, the projected national debt would be $44,800,000,000 by 2031. Moreover, the current value of obligations to finance legal entitlement programs is $132 trillion more.

We are clearly on an unsustainable course. Easy money and goosing the economy with government spending can only take us so far. Eventually, our luck will run out when interest rates return to normal, creditors run out of confidence, inflation and lack of productivity gains take their toll or all of the above.

Technology may help some to delay the deterioration of our standard of living. But our descendants will be far worse off and America will be permanently damaged from our foolish selfishness.

Yet there is a preternatural calmness in Washington circles over the consequences of pushing massive debt out to future generations. When the ruling Left discusses their multi-trillion dollar spending proposals, they typically don’t bother to address the revenue problem. The fact that they are politically popular (and Biden’s “free” spending proposals are) is rationale enough in Dem World.

The spenders act as if spending itself is a social good. Deeply in debt, they spend for unnecessary frills like taxpayer-supplied benefits for illegal immigrants and middle class social programs.

They profess to believe that money will always be available so long as government can figuratively print more, but that is patently ludicrous. More likely, they just don’t care.

These are people who fervently believe in the power of Big Government to make life better, the overwhelming evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The more money that is spent on anything, the larger their constituent base grows. As in the border crisis, the chance to maintain power drives policy.

Literally nothing else matters.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Business Groups React Positively To Arizona’s FY2022 Budget

Business Groups React Positively To Arizona’s FY2022 Budget

By Terri Jo Neff |

Positive reactions continue to come in from business groups in response to the Arizona Legislature’s passage this week of a Fiscal Year 2022 budget package which includes more than $1.3 billion in tax cuts, $1 billion in payments toward state debt, and a transition of the state’s multi-tied income tax system to a flat rate.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Arizona Tax Research Association called passage of the FY2022 budget “a watershed moment” for Arizona, while Scot Mussi, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, commended the Legislature for passing what he called “historic” tax cuts.

“Every single taxpayer in Arizona will now get a tax cut,” Mussi said. “This is great news for the future of our great state!”

The National Federation of Independent Business, which advocates for small and independent businesses across the country, gave a shout out to the Legislature via Twitter for adopting “landmark property & income tax reforms” which support small businesses. “Your work will allow small businesses to grow our state economy and create more jobs #ForArizonans,” the message said.

On Friday, Gov. Doug Ducey issued a video statement celebrating passage of the 11 bills which make up what he calls the state’s “fiscally conservative, forward-looking budget” that starts July 1.

“Here in Arizona our economy is booming,” said Ducey, thanking House Speaker Rusty Bowers, Senate President Karen Fann, and all the legislators. “New people and businesses are moving here every day. And at the state level that’s resulted in record revenue.  With this budget we’re investing those dollars in the things that matter: schools, universities, community colleges, and new roads and bridges, just to name a few.”

Ducey added that “most importantly we’re giving a bulk of the surplus dollars back to the people who earned them.”

A budget signing ceremony must wait until at least Monday when the Senate returns from recess to formally transmit the budget bills to the governor.

Meanwhile, supporters of the voter initiative known as Proposition 208 are promising a court fight over a bill Ducey is also expected to sign next week.

Prop 208 passed last November by a slim margin of 51.75 to 48.25 percent. The purpose of the initiative was to provide additional funding for public and charter school by way of a new 3.5 percent income tax surcharge for many Arizonans.

Among those subject to the new tax surcharge would be thousands of small business owners who currently report business profits on their state personal income tax return. SB1783, however, provides a small business alternate income tax as an option for those who operate as sole proprietors, LLCs, professional partnerships, and S Corporations.

Under the alternate tax, income derived from small business can be reported on a special small business income tax form. This will ensure the income is not added into personal income for purposes of calculating the amount of Prop 208 surcharge a taxpayer owes.

Critics contend SB1783 is a way to unlawfully circumvent the taxation provision of Prop 208. Proponents of the bill point to the many statements made prior to the 2020 General Election which assured business owners that “business income” would not be subject to the surcharge.