A Complicated History, an Uncertain Future: The Arizona Commerce Authority, Part I

A Complicated History, an Uncertain Future: The Arizona Commerce Authority, Part I

A contentious fight is brewing in the Arizona legislature, the possible reauthorization of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA). Governor Hobbs has made the reauthorization a top priority of her administration this session, mentioning it in her State of the State address. But the debate has an ironic element considering the history of its inception.

In 2011, the state was crawling out of a crippling recession, having lost literally hundreds of thousands of jobs and even selling off the state Capitol buildings to dig out of a deficit. The legislature, in collaboration with the Brewer Administration, introduced an omnibus bill sold as a “jobs package” which refashioned the bureaucratic Department of Commerce into the Arizona Commerce Authority, and incorporated both new targeted tax credit programs and incentives, as well as phased in corporate income and commercial property tax cuts.

Democrats a Decade Ago Opposed the ACA

The bill at the time was uniformly opposed by Democrats, including then Representative Katie Hobbs. Republicans mostly coalesced around the bill, with a handful of key conservatives voting in opposition of the legislation, largely in protest of the corporate welfare and multi-million-dollar “deal closing” fund with no legislative oversight. For those unfamiliar with the deal closing fund, it is a large pot of money appropriated to the Director of the Commerce Authority to throw at corporations to convince them to relocate to Arizona.

After the ACA was passed and signed into law, it would seem that only a few conservative voices and the Club itself would prove prophetic at the lack of oversight and inevitable gift clause violations, which is a constitutional protection from the government subsidizing private industry.

Predictions of Initial Critics Come to Pass

In 2016, the ACA received its first independent evaluation by the state auditor general in anticipation of its first agency sunset review. Unsurprisingly, their report flagged multiple problems at the ACA, with a couple being major gaps in reporting and a gross exaggeration of “created” jobs.

Our organization and a few others highlighted these issues at the legislature, but our concerns fell on deaf ears as the ACA received a cushy 8-year extension. Now the ACA is up for review again, and low and behold like Groundhog Day, the latest 2023 auditor general report includes the same problems as before plus additional ones, including junkets that use taxpayer money to schmooze CEOs with Super Bowl tickets, bottles of wine, and a lavish food budget as blatant Gift Clause violations.

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

This year’s fight over the ACA is more complicated than before. Minutes before the director was to take the podium to advocate before the House Commerce committee, Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes released her own legal opinion of the Authority’s CEO forums and unequivocally determined they are in fact unconstitutional and warned the agency to cease all such expenditures or face litigation.

Though the Commerce Authority was able to duck direct challenges of Gift Clause violations in the past, not least in part because the jurisprudence surrounding the interpretation of the Gift Clause circa 2011 or 2016 was less clear, they no longer enjoy that benefit. The Arizona Supreme Court has recently made very clear what expenses are and aren’t subsidies with a two-prong test. First, the expenditure must provide a public benefit. If it does, then the public expense must be far exceeded by the benefit provided. Importantly, the court reiterated that anticipated economic development, job growth, and expected increased tax revenue are indirect benefits that are irrelevant to the analysis. Considering all these programs are justified by expected future economic development—regardless of the public benefit—they are subsidies, as Attorney General Mayes concluded.

The unlikely allyship between AG Mayes and Senate President Warren Petersen (leading the effort in the legislature to reform and consolidate the ACA) means the process will not be an exercise in rubberstamping. The Authority will not be able to rely on the muscle of the business community alone, sailing through a perfunctory review of its defects. And that’s good news for taxpayers and advocates of transparent and accountable government.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

Republicans Need to Protect Arizona’s Citizens from Executive Overreach

Republicans Need to Protect Arizona’s Citizens from Executive Overreach

Katie Hobbs certainly seems to like power. That’s probably why she was so giddy with laughter and excitement during her swearing-in ceremony last month. Now, she’s gotten to work. And despite her claims that Republicans and Democrats will have an open door to her office to get to work on bipartisan compromise, her preferred method appears to be executive action.

In just over a month since beginning her reign as governor, Hobbs has already signed seven executive orders. And there’s no sign that she’ll stop there. Her first executive order, prohibiting gender identity discrimination in state employment and contracts, was particularly eye-opening. Consider it a small taste of the woke agenda Hobbs is looking to implement over the next four years. And while it’s good to see that groups like the Arizona Freedom Caucus are planning to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of such an order, it will take more than that to stop Hobbs from overstepping her authority.

If there’s anything that the past few years should have taught us, it’s that Democrats, in particular, have a strong thirst for executive overreach. In just his first two months in office, President Biden signed 37 executive orders, 13 presidential memoranda, 24 proclamations, and seven notices. And in his first two weeks alone, he had already signed more than double the number of executive orders signed by President Trump in his first month. Biden loves to talk about protecting democracy, but his actions prove otherwise.

Then, of course, there’s Michigan’s infamous Governor Gretchen Whitmer, whose appetite for power rose to new levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, Whitmer signed one of the most restrictive stay-at-home orders in the country. It prevented the people of Michigan from traveling to in-state vacation residences and using a motorboat. And it mandated large stores to close areas dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, and paint. Some stores even went so far as to put caution tape around such areas. And while the Michigan Supreme Court eventually struck down Whitmer’s orders months later, the damage had already been done.

Arizona certainly hasn’t been immune to government overreach in the past. During COVID, various government officials throughout the state used emergency powers to restrict freedom and some even used it as an opportunity to declare climate emergencies! Now, with Hobbs in office and Arizona’s broad allowance of emergency powers for the executive, we can expect more of the same—or maybe even Gretchen Whitmer 2.0. Given her chosen person to head up the Department of Health Services—a radical social justice warrior that wants “health equity”—Hobbs is the single biggest threat to medical freedom in the state of Arizona.

That’s why it is critical to put this issue in front of Arizona voters as soon as possible. And a new bill sponsored by Reps. Joseph Chaplik (R-LD03) and Alex Kolodin (R-LD03) is designed to do just that. HCR2039, which would be subject to voter approval, would terminate a governor’s state of emergency and any emergency powers after 30 days, unless extended by Concurrent Resolution of the legislature. It would also allow the legislature to declare the end of a state emergency before the 30-day period by Concurrent Resolution.

With Hobbs prepared to rule by executive action for the foreseeable future, this bill is an important first step to limiting her powers. The people of Arizona have been through a lot over the past few years. Now, the Republican-led legislature needs to show that it won’t let the governor’s emergency powers destroy their lives again by passing HCR2039.  

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

As Katie Hobbs Spouts Lies About K-12 Education Spending, Republicans Must Push Back

As Katie Hobbs Spouts Lies About K-12 Education Spending, Republicans Must Push Back

For the last two years, Republicans have been winning the education debate, and Democrats are not happy. Public education has long been their baby, using it to indoctrinate children with their radical ideas all while deceiving voters into outrageous tax increases.

But after watching Republican Tom Horne win the race for Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction this November—while 19 conservatives picked up school board seats—Democrats went into a tailspin. That’s why it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Governor Katie Hobbs is willing to do whatever it takes to change the narrative, including lying to voters about K-12 education spending.

In Hobbs’s first State of the State address delivered earlier this week, she got right to work—claiming that our schools are woefully underfunded and that “investments” in our schools are long overdue. Right on cue, the liberal and anti-school choice Arizona Republic swooned over her comments. But there’s a problem: Hobbs’s assertion just isn’t true.

Funding for K-12 education in Arizona is at its highest level in state history. And the reason we know this is because there is a constitutional expenditure limit—which Hobbs couldn’t help but attack in her address. But this limit, which was approved by voters, isn’t some subjective cap that legislators can manipulate to cover up how much or how little is being spent. It’s an objective formula used by the Department of Revenue every year to determine funding levels based on student population, plus inflation, plus an additional 10% on top of that.

Do you know what that amounted to for Fiscal Year 2022? $14,326 per student. That’s the highest per pupil spending in state history! The FY 2023 budget passed last June put hundreds of millions more into the K-12 bucket! And yet, Democrats continue to push the lie that our schools are underfunded.

That’s why it’s time for Republicans to step up and forcefully push back against this narrative from the Left. It is nothing more than a ploy by Democrats to change the education debate because they know that they have been losing so badly on the issue. And that’s because for the last two years, Republicans have been focused on what matters most: parental rights, school choice, accountability, and stopping the woke indoctrination in our schools.

But Hobbs wants to turn back the clock to 2019, when the entire education debate was focused on how much money we should plow into K-12 schools while many in the GOP cowered from Red4ED and capitulated to their demands. We ended up with Prop 208 because of this failed strategy. And that would have made Arizona a high tax state had it not been for litigation pushed by the Free Enterprise Club and the Goldwater Institute challenging the constitutionality of the plan killing it once and for all.

Republicans can’t make the same mistake this time by getting pulled back into a bidding war on the education issue. Momentum is on our side, and that’s why it’s critical for the GOP to reject Hobbs’s premise that schools are underfunded while staying laser focused on the parental rights and school choice messages that will continue to lead to success on this issue.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

Arizona Free Enterprise Announces 2020 General Election Endorsements

Phoenix, AZ (September 3, 2020) – Today the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announced its slate of candidate endorsements for the 2020 general election cycle.    

The endorsed candidates represent individuals who align with the organization’s principles and key policy goals.  Club President Scot Mussi stated, “It is critical Arizona has leaders and policy makers who are able to articulate and stand up for free market principles and pro-growth policies.  This slate of candidates has proven they can and will.”

Proposition 207 – No

Proposition 208 – No

U.S Senate

Martha McSally

U.S Congress

Tiffany Shedd, CD 1

Brandon Martin, CD 2

Daniel Wood, CD 3

Paul Gosar, CD 4

Andy Biggs, CD 5

David Schwiekert, CD 6

Debbie Lesko, CD 8

Corporation Commission

Eric Sloan

Jim O’Connor

State Legislative Races

Judy Burges, LD 1 House                                                         

Quang Nguyen, LD 1 House                                                     

Deborah McEwen, LD 2 House

Travis Angry, LD 4 Senate

Joel John Dee, LD 4 House

Regina Cobb, LD 5 House

Leo Biasuicci, LD 5 House

Walt Blackman, LD 6 House                            

Brenda Barton, LD 6 House

David Peelman, LD 7 House

Vince Leach, LD 11 Senate

Mark Finchem, LD 11 House

Brett Roberts, LD 11 House

Warren Petersen, LD 12 Senate

Travis Grantham, LD 12 House

Jake Hoffman, LD 12 House

Sine Kerr, LD 13 Senate

Tim Dunn, LD 13 House

David Gowan, LD 14 Senate

Gail Griffin, LD 14 House

Becky Nutt, LD 14 House

Nancy Barto, LD 15 Senate

Steve Kaiser, LD 15 House

Justin Wilmeth, LD 15 House

Kelly Townsend, LD 16 House

Jacqueline Parker, LD 16 House

JD Mesnard, LD 17 Senate

Liz Harris, LD 17 House

Suzanne Sharer, LD 18 Senate

Paul Boyer, LD 20 Senate

Anthony Kern, LD 20 House

Shawnna Bolick, LD 20 House

Rick Gray, LD 21 Senate

Kevin Payne, LD 21 House

Beverly Pingerelli, LD 21 House

David Livingston, LD 22 Senate

Ben Toma, LD 22 House

Frank Carroll, LD 22 House

Michelle Ugenti-Rita, LD 23 Senate

John Kavanagh, LD 23 House

Joseph Chaplik, LD 23 House

Tyler Pace, LD 25 Senate

Rusty Bowers, LD 25 House

Tatiana Pena, LD 27 House

Jana Jackson, LD 28 House

Maricopa County

Proposition 449 – No

Stephen Richer, County Recorder

Allister Adel, County Attorney

Steve Chucri, Board of Supervisors District 2

Bill Gates, Board of Supervisors District 3


Matt Nielsen, Mayor


Lisa Borowski, Mayor


Merissa Hamilton, Mayor

David Seibert, City Council, District 1

COVID-19 One-Size Fits All Policies Have Unintended Consequences

Dr. Jeffrey Singer is in a unique position to opine on the current situation in our country and state.  Not only has he worked as a general surgeon for 35 years, including within a hospital, he is also a Senior Fellow with the Cato Institute, researching and analyzing public policy.

Dr. Singer has published several articles on the COVID-19 pandemic, two recently in the Washington Examiner and USA Today.  Both highlight areas in which governments have taken broad policy actions that have had major costs and harmful unintended consequences.  He instead recommends policymakers take both a targeted as well as softer, education-focused approach to public health directives.

Our leaders are in a difficult situation trying to balance the roller coaster of public opinion which often supports those decisions which avoid consequences that can be readily observed.  This explains why elected officials have gravitated toward sweeping lockdowns, bans, and mandates.  Yet Singer points out, these policies do not consider the consequences that are not as easily observed.  Aside from the obvious financial hardships forced shutdowns have wreaked on employment, businesses, life savings and the overall economy, there have been massive public health costs.

These include the untold lives that will be claimed from serious illnesses because of bans on screening procedures, from chronic diseases because patients could not keep routine appointments, and from suicides as those already battling depression fail to cope with prolonged isolation. 

Furthermore, Arizona’s Governor, like in many other states, issued an executive order prohibiting “elective” surgery. This was a strategy to ensure the hospitals could build capacity and not be overrun by pandemic patients.  But as Dr. Singer points out in his USA Today article, elective surgeries are not the same as unnecessary surgeries.  He suggests instead that a more lasered and effective approach would be to allow doctors, not bureaucrats, discern which surgeries should be done based upon an analysis of risk to the hospital and patient on an individual basis.

A wise approach.

Aside from economic and health repercussions to top-down mandates, our country and state has seen dramatic civil unrest.  Afterall, this is still the “land of the free” and Americans do not accept controls and dictates from government as easily as citizens of other countries.

Ultimately Singer’s conclusion is the right one, “Central governments and public health officials should use a light touch when responding to public health emergencies. Responses should be targeted, nuanced, flexible, and easily adjust to changes on the ground based upon local knowledge. For this to happen, the government should provide people with accurate and up-to-date information on the nature and status of the public health emergency, along with the necessary information and tools so they can best cope with the emergency. There is good reason to believe that, given the right information and using persuasion instead of coercion, public health officials are more likely to get cooperation from the public.”

Supervisor Mike Goodman Wants Higher Taxes But Doesn’t Pay His Own Taxes

Hypocrisy in politics in nothing new, but it does matter when it comes to taking more money out of your wallet. That brings us to the story of Pinal County Supervisor Mike Goodman.

For years Mike Goodman has pushed for tax increases in Pinal County, the largest being the $640 Million dollar tax hike in 2017. This was suppose to fund transportation projects throughout the county, except that his district does not get one penny of the revenue from the tax hike.

That’s right, Supervisor Goodman pushed for a tax increase knowing that his community would not benefit. Now his constituents are being stuck with the tax bill to improve roads for developers and other special interest groups around the county.

But it gets even worse. It turns out that while Mr. Goodman wants others to pay higher taxes that he doesn’t even pay his own!

For years Supervisor Goodman was sent notices from the IRS on back taxes owed totaling over $100,000. After refusing to pay, the IRS was forced to issue a lien on all property and income owned by Supervisor Goodman in the amount of the taxes owed plus interest and penalties.

The IRS isn’t the only entity that Supervisor Goodman has stiffed over the years. Mr. Goodman also operated MB Goodman, LLC., a business that had a poor track record of paying vendors and creditors.

His failure to pay became so problematic that one vendor, Crop Production Services Inc. was forced to take Supervisor Goodman to court for debts owed. Not surprisingly the court ruled against him, issuing a judgement against Mr. Goodman and in favor of Crop Production Services Inc. for $95,300.54.

Yet that judgement wasn’t enough, as Supervisor Goodman continued to avoid paying Crop Production Services what they were owed. They were forced to take him to court again, getting a second order issued ensuring that his wages would be garnished until full payment of his debts were made.

Supervisor Goodman doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his creditors. But he wants his constituents to pay more in taxes for projects that don’t even serve or benefit the community.

This type of irresponsible and hypocritical behavior should not be rewarded. Supervisor Goodman is up for reelection this year, it’s probably time for voters to pick someone new to represent them in Pinal County.






Paid for by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Not Authorized by any Candidate or Candidate Committee.