Vernon Parker: Republicans used to be the party of less government, with an eye on shrinking government. Oddly, some now seem afraid to do so. I am not.
VISIONS OF A BETTER ARIZONA
One in an occasional series of commentaries by state leaders.
A year ago, many were writing obituaries for the Republican Party. Today, Republicans look poised to make major gains in the 2010 congressional elections.
But is the potential success the result of resilient introspection, or the misguided policies of the current administration and congressional majority in Washington? Unfortunately, I believe it’s the latter. And that’s just not going to cut it in Arizona.
Republicans have taken a few body blows dealing with the spending hangover left by Janet Napolitano. In 2010, our party will also face the perennial candidate for governor, current Attorney General Terry Goddard. That’s why it is imperative that our party turn to a fresh face and a new voice with an innovative agenda to overcome the obstacles we currently face.
We are not going to beat a career politician like Terry Goddard with a career politician of our own. Nor will we beat him with an incumbent. No, it is going to take a bold, new message and a different kind of messenger. That’s why I ask my fellow Arizonans to consider the following:
Arizona faces some tough odds right now. To overcome them, it helps to have someone who has done it before. I have overcome many obstacles in my own life. I am numb to the words “you can’t.”
I have seen things as a child that no child should see, or for that matter, no adult. My neighborhood was littered with drugs, violence and a culture of governmental dependence. But through the love of a wise grandmother, a loving mother, many caring aunts, and a public education system that didn’t allow me to fall through the cracks, I now serve the people of Paradise Valley as their mayor. No odds seem too great, even those facing Arizona, after that journey.
The state of Arizona has become the state of confusion. But if we work together, we can make it the state of opportunity, for all of our people. How do we resurrect our state?
• First, we must reject the tax increase proposed by the incumbent Gov. Jan Brewer. Republicans used to be the party of less government, with an eye on shrinking government. Oddly, some now seem afraid to do so. I am not.
• Second, we can’t just play around the margins anymore when it comes to job creation. I want to phase out the corporate tax in Arizona. Why? Because I want to roll out the red carpet to businesses in California that are looking for a new home because they are suffocating under heavy taxes and regulation. I want to tell them, “Come on over. Arizona is a place to do business.”
I want to send a true reform message to national and international markets that there is no better place to do business than right here in Arizona. If we do this, jobs will flock to Arizona, and we will get back on our feet. Let’s grow the pie of prosperity, rather than drown our businesses with higher taxes.
• Third, the transformation from a state of confusion to a state of opportunity means major reform to our higher education system. We need to explore the option of allowing community colleges to grant four-year degrees throughout Arizona. Let our community colleges, especially in the rural areas, educate their best and brightest at home rather than send them off to the big city. More access for lower- and middle-income families to higher education is a winning formula for Arizona. If we are going to attract new industries to Arizona, we must have an educated pool of potential workers from which to draw.
• And fourth, if Arizona K-12 schools aren’t living up to our expectations, let’s look to innovative programs such as Teach for America. Empower principals with tools to place qualified professionals, retired educators and community leaders in classrooms so our students have every opportunity to succeed. We can no longer embrace a system that does not reward performance but rewards seniority.
These are just a few of the ideas I’ll be introducing to help craft a next-generation Republican agenda. With such a platform, I believe that the best days for Arizona are ahead.
Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker has formed an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2010. You can learn more about him at www.vernonparker.com.