Slash red tape and embrace the sharing economy: Gov. Ducey

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

From the day I took office, I've made it clear that government regulation and outdated laws should not get in the way of people trying to earn an honest paycheck.

Anytime we can get government out of the way, it's a win for job creators, a win for our citizens seeking the most innovative, convenient and cost-effective services and a win for up-and-coming 21st-century business models that clearly are the wave of the future.

Arizona has been relentlessly removing barriers holding back free-market competition, and we continue to identify and implement ways for businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the 21st-century economy, where even small- and medium-sized businesses must often compete for market share across state and international lines.

Our efforts show that when a state supports its incredibly hardworking, innovative business owners and consumers, big things can happen and our economy thrives. Earlier this year, Arizona finally gained back all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession. A recent report by the Behavior Research Center placed Arizona consumer confidence at its highest level since 2009. And Kiplinger ranked Arizona as the state with the second-fastest projected job growth rate in the country for 2016, at 3.2 percent.

But rankings and statistics are most meaningful when they are accompanied by the arrival of more businesses, more opportunity and more jobs in Arizona.

"Arizona was the first state ... to pass and sign legislation that protects and supports home-sharing companies like Airbnb, allowing them to thrive without the maze of red tape and bureaucracy. Now, in Arizona, every homeowner can be an entrepreneur."

That's why I've signed into law policies that embrace and promote — not punish — transformative business models. Arizona was the first state in the nation to pass and sign legislation that protects and supports home-sharing companies like Airbnb, allowing them to thrive without the maze of red tape and bureaucracy. Now, in Arizona every homeowner can be an entrepreneur. Not only will our policies open the door for home-sharing in Arizona, but I believe they will serve as a national model for states and policymakers who want to embrace this excellent industry.

And those restrictions on ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport? They have finally been rolled back.

Large corporations have also taken notice of the economic opportunities in Arizona. Google announced an innovative self-driving vehicle test program in April. And in May, Caterpillar announced that it is bringing a regional headquarters, along with hundreds of well-paying jobs to southern Arizona.

We are just getting started with our efforts to ensure that every business in America sees the benefits of starting or expanding in our state — just as Tuft and Needle, a mattress company start-up; or Dot Foods, the nation's largest food redistributor — have done.

This year, we consolidated agencies with duplicative functions into a one-stop shop for economic development, called the Governor's Economic Opportunity Office. This office not only analyzes how Arizona stacks up in terms of tax and regulatory climates of other states but will assist in matching small and large employers with the qualified workforce and financing they need.

We also understand that no economy can thrive without a qualified, educated workforce. So we are putting our money where our mouth is and making sure our workforce has the skills employers need by reinvesting tens of millions of dollars into career and technical education with commitments for ongoing funding.

And this May, Arizona voters approved the infusion of $3.5 billion new dollars into our K-12 schools over the next 10 years. This is one of the most significant investments Arizona has ever made in public education. And we did it without raising taxes on hardworking citizens or business owners.

We continue to set the stage for long-term economic prosperity by keeping our taxes low, our regulation light and by paying our bills. The budget I signed this year brings Arizona to a positive structural balance by the end of fiscal year 2017, the first structural balance our state has seen in a decade.

It's Arizona's incredible entrepreneurs, business owners, innovators and visionaries that deserve the credit for the state's recent accolades and economic success. Our job as state government is simple: to create an environment in which businesses can thrive. In this ever-evolving economy, that means putting an end to outdated regulations and barriers that prevent businesses from connecting their product and services to market. That means encouraging, not inhibiting, innovation with fresh thinking. And it means never stopping our quest to be better, even after we have become the No. 1 state in the country to do business.

— By Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

Editor's note: This commentary was written before the release of the Top States 2016 data. The governor did not have knowledge of the rankings or the comprehensive data.