By Daniel Stefanksi |
Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kevin Thompson announced the successful inclusion of top-line priorities in the recently signed budget for the state – negotiated between Republican legislators and Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs. While Hobbs apparently failed to incorporate some main requests for same-party officials in the Attorney General’s and Secretary of State’s offices, many Republicans around the state, including Thompson, were more than pleased with their budget advances.
In an Instagram post, Thompson revealed the following budget gains for the Corporation Commission:
- “$6M in new dedicated funds to increase staffing levels and increase employee salaries by 10%.
- Another $7M in one-time funding to replace the Commission’s outdated business filing computer system, which will help improve the overall customer experience for Arizona’s 1.3M active LLC’s and another 578,000 active corporations registered in our state.”
Thompson also ensured that these wins were fiscally responsible, adding that the funding was secured “using existing Commission funding streams, incurring no additional expense for the taxpayer.”
The freshman commissioner noted the difficulty of this accomplishment, sharing that “many scoffed at the idea of our ambitious supplemental budget request” due to the fact that “the Commission hadn’t received new dollars from the legislature in years.”
This action was a priority of Thompson’s – and his fellow freshman Commissioner, Nick Myers – since they were sworn into office in January. In his inauguration speech, Thompson promised to pursue increased funding for Corporation Commission staff, saying, “With that, I want to immediately work to bring our staffing levels back to where they should be, and secure the livable wages our hardworking public servants deserve. We can’t continue to do more to service the public with less and expect our employees to have quality of life in this economy. I will work with our Executive Director and legislature to seek an increase in our annual budget and improve salaries for our employees. We have to keep pace with other state agency employee pay.”
Not only did this funding not add any more dollars to the state’s general fund, it will certainly help Arizona ratepayers and those who interact with the Corporation Commission – as Thompson highlighted in his recent social media post: “One of the significant consequence of being understaffed and under-resourced is that Arizona has consistently ranked in the bottom tier nationally in processing utility rate cases—it takes fifty percent longer to process a rate case in Arizona – resulting in delays to build new generation and replace critical infrastructure, driving up ratepayer costs and further destabilizing our regulatory and investment climate.”
Thompson also praised Myers, who ran as a team with him in 2022, for his co-labors in securing new funding for the Commission. Thompson’s and Myers’ November victories kept Sandra Kennedy and Lauren Kuby from those seats, which would have given the Democrats control of the Commission. According to an official Corporation Commission release, House and Senate Appropriations Chairs David Livingston and John Kavanagh were applauded for their leadership roles in making the funding a reality during the legislative process.
Commissioner Thompson has quickly made himself into a reliable conservative voice and figure for Arizona Republicans, which hasn’t been too hard due to the scarcity of statewide Republican officials. Still, Thompson’s record at the Mesa City Council and (now) at the Arizona Corporation Commission could lead to a significant promotion in the 2026 state contests – especially as he works with his Republican colleagues to stop Democrats from transforming Arizona’s energy policies.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.