As innovators and entrepreneurs, we chose to call Arizona home. Across our state we have started, grown, and even relocated businesses that provide opportunity and high-wage employment. Arizona is one of the fastest growing states because job creators and families enjoy our tax climate, weather, and amenities.
However, we can’t rely upon great weather to be the deciding factor between a business moving to Phoenix, or choosing to locate in Texas, Colorado, or Florida. As Arizonans, we must maintain our competitive edge by educating the next generation of workers, innovators, and entrepreneurs and supporting our local schools.
One of the biggest challenges we face as business owners is whether we can educate and train the next generation of great employees who want to live and work in Arizona. A four-year college degree is necessary in some fields, like engineering; but for others, vocational and technical training is the best path to future employment.
Our companies rely on skilled labor to be successful – and for many of us, it means that a computer scientist who develops predictive models is working side-by-side with the precision welder who turns vision into reality, or a technical specialist who maintains the HVAC and building systems that provides a suitable environment for that project to be completed.
State revenues continue to grow as fast as our communities, but public investment into education systems is limited by the antiquated formulas used to fund our schools. As business leaders, we believe that Arizona can grow a talented workforce from our P-20 schools. We have some of the best public schools, community colleges, universities, and technical education programs in the country, but only if we provide the resources our educators and students need,
Supporting our future workforce means that we must eliminate the outdated formulas that arbitrarily limit school funding at both the K-12 and higher ed levels, otherwise known as their “expenditure limits.” As business leaders, we are committed to partnering with our local community colleges and career and technical education programs. And our universities need certainty and reliability to attract top talent and expand degree offerings.
The future Arizona workforce will be educated in our neighborhood classrooms, fostered by our community colleges and higher education partners, and trained by technical experts at our CTED campuses. As business and community leaders, we are calling on the Legislature and governor to modernize the outdated education expenditure limits and invest in programs that will provide the skilled workforce that our companies need.
Neil Giuliano is a former mayor of Tempe and is the president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership and on the Board of Directors for LGBTQ Victory Institute.