AZ Tech October 2020 President’s Message

by Steven G. Zylstra

Pandemic or no, we have all learned that we still need to stay the course no matter how choppy the waters may become. For the Arizona Technology Council, that meant pursuing a public policy agenda in a legislative session where lawmakers understandably had a lot of pressing matters to consider.

A key reason we continued to make our presence known at the Legislature instead of taking a break for COVID-19 was our representing a membership responsible for being a critical driver of Arizona’s economy. And while a number of our priorities didn’t get the final vote as we had hoped, we saw enough movement to remain positive when lawmakers return.

One of our priorities for the 2020 legislative session was to ensure proven economic development programs such as the Angel Investment Tax Credit and current levels of the Research and Development Tax Credit are reauthorized past their sunset dates of June 30, 2021. I’m happy to report that the Legislature granted an additional 10 years for the R&D tax credit, which places a value of 24% for the first $2.5 million in qualifying expenses and 15% for expenses in excess of that amount.

As for “mirror bills” in both the House and Senate to extend until 2031 the Angel Investment Tax Credit — formally known as the Small Business Investment Credit — these measures did not receive their final votes due to the session ending prematurely. But we haven’t given up. We are working to get the legislation passed in a special session dealing with economic recovery if one is called or reintroducing them in the next session.

Another House bill sought to obtain $3 million annually in state support for five years to cultivate a statewide Arizona STEM ecosystem by strengthening the learning opportunities offered by organizations across sectors, and fueling a strong, diverse talent pipeline by expanding business and education opportunities throughout the state’s rural and urban communities. The measure was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations committee but that hearing was canceled due to the Legislature halting normal business.

Another priority was to consistently and sustainably fund the state’s education system, including career and technical education district (CTED) programs. During the Great Recession, the Legislature cut fourth-year funding for CTED despite many school districts needing the money to support students pursuing industry certifications throughout their entire time in high school while balancing all of their academic requirements. While mirror bills made their way through the House and Senate, they did not get hearings in committees of the respective chambers.

As you can see, we came so close to getting support for the priorities we believe that under different circumstances would ultimately have made it through the Legislature. Good things come to those who wait. We can wait.

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