If you’re like me you’re wondering what will happen in 2017 in terms of local politics and economics. Public policy at the state level is the second most requested topic that we received over the holidays, only behind a number of questions related to Donald Trump.
It’s best guess stuff at the moment. But, my best guess is that Arizona will outperform the U.S. by a decent margin as long as we continue to make economic progress a priority. The following is what I will be monitoring as an economic and policy wonk in 2017…
In terms of our home state, studying economic development and public policy has never been more interesting. We need to keep doing the small things well. This includes continuing the aggressive marketing efforts at the state level. These efforts are relatively cheap, and just need commitment by policymakers to spend more time selling the advantages of the state and their local communities. So far, so good.
Also worth tracking at the state level are additional advances in regulatory reform, modest tax law changes (but be very careful here, there is a point where the costs outweigh the benefits), integrating and improving workforce development efforts, and managing a large state budget in less than certain times, among others. We will know by the spring if state policymakers “get it.” It’s the details that will matter. If a policy issue is raised and one cannot clearly identify who is going to do what and when, then I won’t waste my time on the issue.
I am only slightly less confident in local economic development, marketing, and budget management efforts. Some are doing this very well, while others are still living like it’s the 1990’s and are in autopilot. Community planning needs to be regularly addressed and not just when a chapter in a general plan needs updating. This year will be the year when some communities manage the uncertainty and set themselves up for a very strong end of the decade, and some communities dig themselves into a hole. Again, this spring will be quite telling.
Management of the above issues will impact the economic numbers, but for now expect the state to be top five nationally in terms of population and employment growth in the near term. We still need to work on income growth. Economic progress will vary community by community, but there is still time for everybody to maximize their opportunities with proper planning. We will cover some of these topics in more detail as this spring unfolds. Stay tuned.
Author’s note: If there is a particular economic or policy issue you would like covered in a later publication feel free to send your ideas and/or comments to email@example.com.