The Arizona Free Enterprise Club today announced our 2013 Free Market Champion Award recipients. The Free Market Champion Award is given to members of the Legislature that demonstrate leadership and a commitment to free market, pro growth policies in Arizona. The four recipients of the Free Market Champion Award are:
- Rep. Darin Mitchell
- Rep. Justin Olson
- Rep. Warren Petersen
- Sen. Andy Biggs
“The Free Enterprise Club is proud to honor these four legislators for their hard work and consistent support of economic freedom and prosperity at our state capitol.” Executive Director Scot Mussi said. “They were true difference makers for Arizona taxpayers and businesses.”
Rep. Petersen Accepting His Award
Sen. Biggs Accepts Award in Senate Chamber
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club today released our 2013 Legislative Scorecard, grading each member on their votes and actions during the past legislative session. Over two dozens votes were included in the scorecard, covering a wide range of issues from tax policy, campaign finance and healthcare.
“It is important that voters know where their elected officials stand on promoting economic freedom,” Scot Mussi said. “The Free Enterprise Club Scorecard provides a good measure on how well legislators support taxpayers and a pro-growth business climate.”
In addition to evaluating member votes, the Free Enterprise Club scorecard also holds members accountable for bill sponsorships, committee votes and procedural tricks used to stop good legislation. “It is common for legislators to hold bills in committee or engage in other legislative maneuvers to defeat a measure, and this is often worse than the vote itself,” Mussi said. “Our scorecard holds individual members accountable for these actions.”
Overall, 19 members out of 90 received an ‘A’, with 15 legislators achieving a perfect score. “A key benchmark in receiving a high score is each legislator’s commitment to not picking winners and losers through our tax code.” Mussi said. The 19 members to receive an ‘A’ grade were:
To view the AZFEC House Scorecard click here.
To view the AZFEC Senate Scorecard click here.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club today released the following statement following the 3-2 vote against meaningful net metering reform:
“The vote by the Commission today codifies that non-solar customers will continue to subsidize solar ratepayers,” Executive Director Scot Mussi said. “The net metering program needs to be based on the actual costs of solar power, and the changes made today guarantees that it won’t.”
Without reforms, it is anticipated that the program will only grow more costly over the next several years. “If the goal was to continue picking winners and losers through our utility bills, then the Commission succeeded.” Mussi continued. “And if the Commissioners think that this problem will be easier to fix in the future, they are sorely mistaken.”
Last week it was announced with great fanfare that Apple is moving to Arizona, buying the abandoned First Solar factory plant in east Mesa. And just like the First Solar project in 2011 that produced similar jubilation, politicians and special interest groups seem eager to shower Apple with lavish subsidies and targeted incentives at the expense of taxpayers and small businesses.
Of course, having new ventures like Apple locate to Arizona and create 700 new jobs is undoubtedly a positive development and a good sign for our economy. The question is why Apple and other similar announcements should receive special treatment over the thousands of other jobs created in our state without a special deal. By comparison, here are the latest job creation figures for Arizona through September:
Additionally, the Office of Employment and Population Statistics is now projecting that 48,500 jobs will be created in 2013. In other words, approximately 98% of private sector job growth in Arizona in 2013 will involve no special incentives or tax breaks from government. It is the 98% that pays for the targeted subsidies provided to the 2% of companies that are lucky enough to receive them.
This is bad tax policy and is unfair to the vast majority of job creators. Rather than picking winners and losers through special tax incentives, we should be focusing on broad based tax relief and reform that encourages our $200 Billion dollar economy to grow and prosper. We know that sensible tax policy doesn’t make for great ribbon cutting ceremonies or photo ops for our elected officials, but is a far better approach for a healthy business climate.
We are nearing a decision by the Corporation Commission on whether or not they will finally end the solar subsidies under the current Net Metering program, a policy at the Commission that provides credits to ratepayers that put energy back on the utility grid. While it appears there is support to finally rein in the solar giveaways, Commission staff has recommended waiting as long as 3 years to address the issue, which plays directly into the solar industry’s hands.
Of course the subsidy hungry solar lobby would love a delay—the longer we go without reform the harder it will be to fix in the future. Delaying action should not be an option.
The Free Enterprise Club supports reforming the Net Metering program, and submitted comments to the commission urging reform (our letter can be viewed here). We believe that an effective program should utilize a market driven approach that compensates solar ratepayers based on actual value of the energy that is put back on the grid.
The bottom line is the special interests opposing reform (even calling reform Corporate Welfare, when in fact the current program is the definition of Corporate Welfare) will only be emboldened if the Commission waits to roll back these subsidies. It’s time we stop picking winners and losers through our utility bill and end the hidden subsidies that are embedded in the Net Metering program.