Education Funding, Career Training and Small Business Growth Top the List for the Council and Arizona’s Technology Sector
PHOENIX, December 18, 2017 —The Arizona Technology Council today released its annual Public Policy Guide to disclose its legislative priorities for 2018. These priorities include funding education, creating and funding a job training program, and making existing economic development programs more accessible to small businesses. The Council is the principal advocate for science- and technology-based companies in Arizona. The organization continuously monitors federal, state and local legislation and policies that impact the sustainability and growth of Arizona’s technology industry. The Council also informs and educates policymakers who are important to the state’s technology sector.
“Our public policy priorities for 2018 revolve around education, job training and small business growth,” said Steven G. Zylstra, the Council’s president and CEO. “To reach our goal of becoming a nationwide technology hub, we must build our talent from the ground up. As a leader in driving a pro-growth, business-focused state and federal technology agenda, the Council will strongly pursue the resolution of these initiatives crucial to our state’s economic wellness.”
The 2018 Public Policy Guide provides a detailed outline of the Council’s advocacy activities, featuring principles and positions to aid elected officials at all levels of government as they craft policies that will affect Arizona’s economy for years to come. As technology and innovation-driven companies continue to grow throughout the state, the Council has added a number of new subsectors to the guide this year. Those subsectors include artificial intelligence (AI), commercial space technology, financial technology (Fintech) and Internet of Things (IoT).
The Council’s public policy priorities for 2018 include:
- Restore the fourth-year funding for career and technical education (CTE) – Support budgeting and programming for fourth-year funding of CTE to maximize and accelerate acquisition of the knowledge and skills essential to increasing high-demand industry certifications and credentials.
- Appropriately fund the state’s education system at all levels – Short-term reforms should include high expectations for all students and equitable funding of K-12 education that supports excellence, such as the Proposition 301 formula. Alternative ideas also should be developed to appropriately fund pre- and full-day kindergarten, CTE, community colleges and universities. In the long-term, comprehensive funding reforms should modernize and promote a 21st century delivery model of education focused on performance and accountability.
- Create and fund a job training program – Reinstate a funding structure for the Arizona Job Training grant program administered by the Arizona Commerce Authority to help attract and grow businesses in the state. In the 2015 legislative session, the Job Training tax was repealed from the fiscal 2017 budget — one year before it was scheduled to sunset. This tax provided funds to attract new businesses, and support small and rural Arizona companies by offering reimbursable grant money for job training to new and existing employees. Arizona is now the only place in the nation without a state-supported job training program.
The results of the Council’s public policy efforts in 2017 were very rewarding for the Arizona technology sector. Among the many achievements, the Council’s advocacy helped to pass three crucial pieces of legislation. These achievements include the recapitalization of the Angel Investment Tax Credit program and negotiation of amendments to the Arizona SB1114 to protect Arizona’s famed “dark skies.” Additionally, the Council helped pass a four-year extension of the 2008 Research and Development Tax Credit expansions, which maintained the current R&D tax credit value at 20 percent to 24 percent for the first $2.5 million in qualifying expenses, and at 15 percent for qualifying expenses in excess of $2.5 million. These rates were set to be reduced in 2018 down to 20 percent for the first $2.5 million in qualifying expenses and to 11 percent for anything in excess of $2.5 million.