Gov. Jan Brewer journeyed to the East Valley on Thursday to tell several hundred East Valley business and civic leaders of her determination to make Arizona "a free market beacon."
Her keynote address at the annual 2012 East Valley Breakfast with the Governor, while punctuated by a strong pro-business development tone, touched on a broad range of state issues and the legacy she hopes to leave as Arizona enters its second century.
While she did not focus her address on East Valley issues, she paid homage to the late Robert Brinton, who ran Mesa's Convention and Visitors Bureau and was a powerful force in the development of the Cactus League.
"Robert was a true champion of the East Valley," Brewer said, noting that "under his leadership and tireless efforts, the Cactus League blossomed into a 15-team league, flourishing as a powerful economic engine for Valley tourism."
She also praised plans for developing the former General Motors Proving Grounds in East Mesa as "proof that the East Valley and the State as a whole has a bright economic future."
The proving grounds along with the Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport are at the heart of a region that Mesa and other East Valley leaders believe will eventually generate more than 100,000 jobs.
Roc Arnett, director of the East Valley Partnership and host for the breakfast address, noted that earlier this week proving grounds developer DMB Associates Inc. announced that the proving grounds is being renamed Eastmark.
"The future heart and hub of the East Valley will be known as Eastmark," Eneas Kane, president and chief executive officer of DMB said in a statement.
Kane said Eastmark aspires to be a "hub for major industry, entrepreneurialism and vibrant daily living."
Before pivoting to broader state issues, Brewer noted that the Mesa Arts Center will host a Republican presidential debate scheduled for Feb. 22.
"I know that you're as excited as I am to have all of the East Valley - and that fantastic facility - in the national spotlight," she said.
Brewer's address at the Hilton in Mesa echoed her State of the State address on Monday.
She mixed criticism of the federal government with praise for her own administration and her future agenda.
Brewer said 46,000 jobs were created last year in Arizona, making it seventh best state in the country.
"That's great news, but not enough," she said, calling for the state to further reduce business taxes and regulations to send a clear message that "Arizona is open for business.
At the top of Brewer's economic development aspirations was raising the personal income of Arizonans while making the state the nation's "top job creator."
She also said she wants Arizona to be recognized for excellence in education and for having a limited, efficient and nimble state government.
With state revenues on the rise, Brewer promised that the temporary 1 percent sales tax increase that voters had approved through Proposition 100 would expire on schedule next year.
In response to a question about public education funding and support, Brewer said she recognized that many groups were concerned about the impact that expiration of the tax would have.
She responded that she is pinning her hopes on the state's economy continuing to improve.
While she was proud of her administration's and the Legislature's cost-cutting efforts, she gave some insight into the proposed budget she will unveil today.
Brewer said she would seek to restore financial support for behavioral health issues.
"We were harsh with children. They are some of the most vulnerable in our state," she said.
Jim Ripley is the former executive editor of the East Valley Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.