I've spoken with many fellow Arizonans, asking them what the number one issue facing Arizona is. And regardless of what talking heads on cable news shows say, Arizonans are focused on jobs and the economy. Our unemployment rate remains persistently high, and we are all feeling the effects when our friends and neighbors can't find work. In the last three years our legislature has taken steps it felt would bring jobs to our state. But in that time we've seen the rest of the country recover from the recession while here in Arizona we continue to lose jobs. We deserve better.
Having worked for years in the private sector, I understand what businesses are looking for to create jobs. They need strong markets to sell their products and they need talented people to join their workforce. Arizona has great people who are eager to step up and fill that role. We need a legislature that will work with employers and job-seekers alike to make sure that every Arizonan who wants a job has a job.
Our country has a unique role to fill in the world economy. Our diverse workforce, educational facilities and natural resources position us to lead the world in innovative products and services and solutions to the challenges we all face. Arizona should be leading that charge. Together, we will work together to show the world what makes Arizona a great place to do business.
Two years ago Arizonans agreed to raise their sales tax by one cent. As a result, state revenues were projected to grow by a billion dollars to pay for teachers, public safety and other professionals we rely on to keep our communities great places in which to live. But the legislature then took advantage of those dollars, giving away huge tax breaks to large corporations in the hopes of growing jobs. The result? Fewer jobs in Arizona, and fewer teachers, fire fighters and police officers serving our cities and towns. As your Senator, my message to the Governor will be that when the people state what we want done with our tax dollars, the elected officials had better do what they say. I will work hard to not only keep taxes low, but to make sure our tax dollars are spent on the things we need most.
A strong Arizona starts with strong education. We used to say "the jobs of tomorrow will require a highly-educated workforce". But that "tomorrow" is now today. Business leaders have told us that Arizona won't be able to compete with other parts of the country and the world without serious investment in public education. We need strong focus on STEM curricula (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to prepare our students for the challenging, high-paying jobs that await them.
Unfortunately our legislature has failed our children. In the past five years they have cut 1 of every 4 dollars we invest in education. And our students are losing their future as a result. But instead of addressing the real needs of students in the classroom, our legislature and educational leaders have tried to redirect the conversation with divisive cultural wedge issues that have no place in a discussion of how we educate our children.
We need leaders who know that educational investment is a necessity, not a luxury. Let's send someone to the state capitol who will put our students and our future first.
Arizona is uniquely positioned to be the world leader in the development of solar energy technology. Arizona could fulfill its entire energy need with a solar array the size of Lake Powell. And Arizona could power the entire country with the solar energy we receive in our state every day. The bottom line is that we are letting billions of dollars worth of free energy reach our ground and bounce back into space.
Just as Texas has fossil fuels and Nevada has entertainment, this industry could revitalize our economy and lead our state toward prosperity for decades to come. With clean, sustainable energy we can become energy-independent, strengthen our economy and bring thousands of jobs to our state.
Unfortunately we have a legislature that wants to put the brakes on this emerging technology. And that hurts all of us. We should elect a legislature that sees the solar industry as an opportunity, not a risk. With the right leaders at the state capitol, we will make Arizona a model for high-tech job growth across the country.