Funding issue looming for career, technical education

Steve Macias is chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council.

Steve Macias is chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council.

As football season is upon us, it is often said that college powerhouses like Alabama and Oregon don’t rebuild, they just reload. And so it is with the Arizona Manufacturers Council (except without the chrome helmets). As we plan ahead for the 2016 legislative session, there are many issues to address for manufacturing and our economy, and the AMC is poised and ready to help the state move forward and stay on track with its economic recovery.

Gov. Doug Ducey has been a whirling dervish of engagement and promotion since he hit the ground running last January and his activity on a state, regional, national and international level is already starting to pay dividends as companies take notice that Arizona is open for business. The governor’s ability to put together a coalition in pursuit of a goal is a valued skill that will serve the state well in our quest for quality jobs and economic development.

But looming large is the funding issue of career and technical education as well as the joint technical education districts. The recent economic downturn resulted in some tough funding decisions throughout the state budget, but the cutbacks in these programs will cause a time bomb of unprepared workers moving into the economy at the exact period when it is imperative to have available the skills and the workers that quality CTE programs produce. If Arizona is to expand its technical and manufacturing sector, young people graduating with CTE training will be critical for that expansion.

However, undercutting our state-level efforts to grow our economy, federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board continue to throw sand into the gears of economic expansion, another front the AMC is engaging on. The federal regulatory overreach is so pervasive that it is now to the point that I tell my youngest son not to splash water out of the bath for fear the EPA will determine my house a critical waterway. Buoyed by the NLRB, our three boys have already burned us by declaring my wife and me “joint employers” and demanding more steak, less school and higher allowances.

The key to addressing these national issues is being able to work with our elected federal representatives. We’re fortunate that from our most recently elected members of Congress to our senior senator, our delegation is taking the reins on issues ranging from veterans affairs to protecting the A-10 aircraft and the defense assets of our state.

Though their social and ideological stances may vary significantly, our current group has shown a willingness and eagerness to work together on matters affecting and benefitting Arizona that I have not seen in my years of experience. It is hugely appreciated.

Wrapping this all together is a renewed focus and spirit within the AMC itself. Mark Dobbins (SUMCO USA), our newly elected chairman emeritus, will be at the forefront of many issues, the JTED and CTE ones being chief among them. Our spiritual lead and figurative cup of coffee is Dawn Grove with Karsten Manufacturing, maker of Ping golf clubs. Dawn brings a passion and excitement for manufacturing that we look forward to unleashing on the general population, so get ready for some fun.

Now let’s all go out and build something, literally or otherwise. We’ll take all the help we can get.

Steve Macias is with the Arizona Manufacturers Council

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