Governor candidate Steve Farley’s serious and sober ad is aimed at the age 50+ voters who dominate Tucson politics. Below is his playful 30-second TV ad is aimed at a diverse, Millennial audience and pokes fun at his political nerdiness. “I’m a policy wonk,” he says.
A few years ago two companies with 3,000 jobs apiece considered relocating to Arizona. They liked the climate and the natural beauty of the state but saw two things they didn’t like and rejected Arizona. They were aware of the corporate tax breaks created by our Republican Governor, but they didn’t care about that. “That was way down the list,” they told interviewers later.
Company executives said Arizona had two big negatives — the lack of a sustainable workforce and the absence of a long-term commitment to funding public education. The GOP Governor had slashed funding to state universities, community colleges, and grade schools to pay for the corporate tax breaks, and the strategy is an economic disaster.
“This is why Amazon did not consider Arizona as a location, and why Intel has said publicly it wouldn’t be here if it didn’t have so much stranded capital at its Chandler campus,” says Steve Farley, Democratic candidate for Governor. He spoke at a rousing meeting of the Democrats of Greater Tucson.
Failed Republican economic strategy
“Gov. Doug Ducey likes to portray himself as the ‘economic development governor.’ He would like to chop business taxes to virtually nothing and say that the idea attracts businesses to come here. This hasn’t proven to be the case. If we chop taxes at expense of the universities, community colleges, and public schools, the businesses won’t have anybody to hire.”
Instead of bringing jobs that pay well, Ducey attracted notorious companies like Theranos, which offered a bogus blood-testing service. “People’s lives in Arizona were literally in danger” from the company’s services. “The company is now bankrupt, and the person who founded it is facing a federal indictment for fraud,” Farley says. “Ducey was behind that.”
When Uber’s self-driving cars were kicked out of California, Ducey persuaded the company to bring its untested self-driving cars to Arizona. “A robot-driven car killed a pedestrian in Tempe because the emergency braking system had been disabled. That’s what happens when you get rid of ‘burdensome regulations’ that protect public safety,” Farley said.
Two years ago, Ducey fired 25 corporate tax auditors working for the state. As a direct result, the state lost $83 million in audit revenue, records show. “These are people whose job it is to collect revenue that would fund our schools, ” Farley says. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“Ducey was elected by two billionaires in Kansas [the Koch brothers] who are only interested in lowering their own corporate taxes. You get a governor who is managing state for them — not us.” Ducey is an acolyte of the anti-public-school, anti-consumer, and anti-worker Koch brothers. He attends their summit meetings to get policy instructions and campaign funding, and returns to Arizona to demolish the state economy.
Practical steps to boost AZ’s economy
Farley outlined a practical set of steps he will take when he is elected Governor to boost Arizona’s economy. His plan would replace the feeble, failed policies of the incumbent Republican governor.
“Arizona has an opportunity to make a lot of money. Forget West Virginia coal as an energy source, we should be running this country on Arizona sunshine. We have more sunlight than anybody else, we’ve got California next door and they’ll pay a premium for solar power. Our current leader believes climate change does not exist and that solar energy is a communist plot,” Farley says.
Farley pointed out that the state’s funds are on deposit with the Bank of America on Wall Street. “Why aren’t we depositing it in a local credit union or local bank? Local banks can use the money to lend it out to small businesses and student loans so people can afford to go to college. There is a lot we can do instead of sending our profits to New York,” he says.
Farley proposed cutting the state sales tax by 1% — and also increasing the state’s funding of public education by $2 billion — by eliminating 311 business tax loopholes. The loopholes give away $13.7 billion per year in state tax revenue to large corporations.
Eliminating tax breaks requires a 2/3 supermajority in the state legislature, and Farley says he has already shown he can achieve that. Earlier, he teamed up with tea party Republican David Farnsworth to force a review of the loopholes. “I find ways to get along with people I disagree with,” Farley says. Farley and Farnsworth joined forces to pass legislation to allow students to grow tomatoes in school gardens. “It’s not earth-shaking, but it created a relationship. When he became Chair of the Senate finance committee, I bought him a bill with my Democratic name on it, to force a review all 331 corporate sales tax loopholes once every 10 years. He signed on as a cosponsor. The bill passed unanimously in committee and passed the Senate. Even the tea party doesn’t like these giveaways.”
“Democracy depends on us being able to work together and listen to each other. I speak really good ‘Republican.’ I go on conservative talk radio a lot. I think it’s better to preach to the unconverted. People call up and say, ‘I never heard a Democrat speak before but you make sense.'”
Farley proposes simple economic steps, such as a program to buy coffee directly from farmers instead of buying coffee from middlemen. “We can help farmers to have a decent life where they live so they don’t try to come to the US for a better life. We should bring our economies closer together.”
“I can be the grown-up in the room. I can make us proud of Arizona instead of a joke on late night TV. When the Koch brothers start lying about me nobody will believe them. Twelve years in the minority in the Legislature puts fire in your belly. If Democrats get three more seats, we will take state Senate, and we can come close in the state House. We have a phenomenal opportunity to make that happen. The good news is that it’s not just Democrats that want change — Independents want change. They are sick and tired of Republican ideological warriors and reality show stars.”
Farley is the only Democratic candidate for Governor who has been elected to office, serving as a state Senator for six terms. He is opposed in the primary by David Garcia and Kelly Fryer.