The below Q&A excerpt from the Arizona Capital Times offers a good starting point in a larger discussion of best practices in budgeting, tax policy, and economic development. Check back for an expanded discussion of these topics in later blogs.
Arizona’s policymakers are still depending on technocrats to help shape decisions aimed at influencing the economy. Nowhere is this truer than in tax policy, where a debate is raging over whether a series of tax cuts enacted a few years ago is spurring economic growth or only decimating corporate income tax revenues.
Jim Rounds is a familiar figure at the Capitol. He served as a senior economist and budget analyst at the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which produces the bulk of the budget research for policymakers, and as senior vice president of Elliott D. Pollack & Company. He now runs his own consulting firm, Rounds Consulting Group.
What’s the best advice you’ve given lawmakers that they’ve completely ignored?
That’s a tough one, because I think it’s partly my fault and just the fault of the broader system. When we went through the downturn, it was tough for us, and everybody was looking for a quick fix. And so, myself and other colleagues worked on the old jobs report for Kirk Adams (now Gov. Doug Ducey’s chief of staff) when he was the speaker, and the focus was on tax law changes to be competitive in certain categories and economic development plans… What was disappointing was at that time we were still taking baby steps. It took another couple of years to really appreciate how much is involved in growing the economy and you can’t just go back to those one or two (tax or economic development) items. And so I’ve been pushing for considering workforce training issues, highway infrastructure issues, (and the fact) that businesses need stuff. I’ve included that in every speech for the last two or three years, and it wasn’t the most popular initially… So, now is the sweet spot for us to change policy that could positively impact our economy because it’s just not about that one tax cut or that one deal closing fund. A lot of stuff makes the economy tick.
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