Above all else, I write this in hopes that you, your family, you friends, and all your loved ones are healthy and safe, and able to avail yourselves of resources to persevere through this uncertain and burdensome time.
Our immune systems are imperiled. Our social lives are interrupted. Our worship services are suspended. Our income sources are thwarted. Our Constitutional rights are assailed.
Thankfully, this bizarre pandemic will abate. When it does, our American way of life and our previously thriving economy will roar back. At least, if the deep recession of 2008 is any indication, the economy will roar back in other places, while Pima County slowly limps back to subsistence.
Did we not learn that lesson? Did we not take from that experience, a mere decade ago, some warning to prevent our community from languishing again?
This is our opportunity to own the recovery. This is Pima County’s chance to lead, instead of to trail. This is our shot to reach escape velocity.
We already have stories of local companies pivoting to manufacture goods necessary to combat the virus, but as the pandemic declines, so will the demand for those products above what their normal manufacturers produce (at least, for those goods normally produced in the USA). Our local business community must lead into producing the goods and services of the post-pandemic America. With the coming push to become less reliant on China for our supply chain—which should be clearly evident to even the most economically-illiterate—we need businesses in Pima County to step in, or to start up.
There will be better, cleaner, cheaper ways to manufacture everything from microchips to N95 masks to electric cars. We, Americans, Pima County citizens, need to invent those methods starting today.
Undoubtedly, the biggest thing Pima County can do to help restore our Constitutional rights and repair the economy is to get out of the way. This isn’t a pep talk for us regular folk in the county. No, we want to return to work. We want our rights back and government off our backs. We want to catapult past where we were in February. We want to bound beyond who we were as a society and as a metropolitan economy six weeks ago. We want to leap forward in prosperity! We don’t need the pep talk. This, instead, is an admonition to our leaders.
Pima County cannot directly change the statutory collection of property taxes, but it can immediately change the tax rates. Pima County can eliminate the new tax it imposed to fund PAYGO (yes, it actually is a new tax), and instead use the funding streams it already has for roads that it should have been using all along. Pima County can incent businesses that would supplant Chinese manufacturing of, for example, medications and their factors. Pima County can dramatically tighten its own belt to cease wasteful spending.
If the County leads well, its coffers will overflow with the increase in the tax base, even after lowering tax rates. This isn’t about turning us into another Phoenix with nearly four times the population; this is about returning economic power to the population we already have.
We need leaders who have that drive and that vision, and we need them in the elections coming this year. This crisis, this pandemic, has given me a new and additional reason to run for County Supervisor: Let the good people of Pima County own the recovery and exemplify for the rest of the country the spirit of American greatness, and let the government of Pima County minimize itself in support of each of us.
Steve Spain, a native of the Tucson area and a University of Arizona alumnus, is a candidate for Pima County Supervisor District 1. He has received the endorsement of Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller.