A governor who chose to ride with Uber over regulators

Standard and Poor's recently assigned Arizona the strongest rating the state has had since 2008.

When I was sworn in as Arizona's governor on January 5, the Super Bowl was set to kick off in our state just four weeks later.

Amid all the planning and upcoming festivities, there was a wrinkle: One of the state's regulatory agencies I inherited had been running sting operations against Uber and Lyft drivers, aggressively trying to shut them down. State regulators were out of control and using taxpayer resources to try to put the brakes on a wildly popular service.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey
Source: Office of the Governor
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

We worried about what this might mean during a major event like the Super Bowl, when 100,000 visitors were on their way to Arizona.

So I took action, replacing the agency's leadership and immediately ending all pending regulatory actions against ride-share operators.

Next, we passed statutory language, making it clear these ride-share operators can do business in Arizona. And for good measure, we are in the process of abolishing the very department where all the regulatory mischief originated.

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Breaking down these antiquated regulations made a lot of heads spin among entrenched interests. But the reality is that Uber and Lyft drivers are small-business owners—regular people who are just trying to make an honest living and, in the process, are changing the way we get around.

Our pro-business mind-set is paying off. Recently, Uber announced the opening of its first-ever Center of Excellence in downtown Phoenix. By the end of the year, the center will employ 300 people who will provide support to drivers and passengers.

"We passed statutory language, making it clear these ride-share operators can do business in Arizona. And for good measure, we are in the process of abolishing the very department where all the regulatory mischief originated."

This is just the latest in a string of good news for our state and a loud message that Arizona is open for business.

See, while everyone was watching the Super Bowl, our office was working. The day after the big game, we announced that the most successful company in history—Apple—was making one of its largest investments ever right here in our state: a $2 billion data center to serve as a command center for the company's global networks.

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A lot of what we're doing in Arizona is forcing our government to enter the 21st century so that 21st-century companies can operate here.

We lifted inexplicable caps on craft breweries. We ended restrictions on the use of medical testing, allowing Theranos—a company started by the world's youngest self-made female billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes—to provide the public easy access to instant lab results. And we passed an equity crowdfunding bill that enables innovative access to capital for Arizona entrepreneurs at workshops like TechShop in Chandler, Arizona. If you've ever used Square to pay with a credit or debit card at a farmer's market or coffee shop, you'll be interested to know that the first prototype came out of a TechShop.

Along the way, we tackled a $1 billion budget deficit by forcing government to live within its means. We rejected calls for higher taxes. We instituted a state hiring freeze. Our budget is on the path to structural balance for the first time since 2007. Our state government will actually spend less next year than it did this year. And just this month, we put forward a plan to invest $1.8 billion in our schools—without raising taxes—by better utilizing funds Arizona has earned from the sale of state lands.

It's no accident that two of the world's top credit-rating services have upgraded Arizona's credit outlook. Standard and Poor's recently assigned us the strongest rating we've had since 2008.

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Our goal is simple: We are committed to getting Arizona back on a path to job creation and economic growth. Our recovery from the Great Recession—like much of America's—was much slower than expected, and the price our workers and job seekers have paid has been high.

The first five months are just the beginning. Arizona has many natural advantages over other states—our climate, our people, our independent culture. Now we're seeking some man-made advantages based on sound policy and smaller government. While there is much more to do, these actions are already paying dividends for our state.

Our leaders in Washington would do well to look up from their petty fights and instead look west and follow our lead. There is a better way.

By Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, former co-owner and CEO of Cold Stone Creamery and a member of the CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network.

About YPO

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