Hole In One For Kids. Bogey For Tourism?
Governor Doug Ducey is announcing today a reform to have more money from the sale of state land go into K-12 education. Here is a link to the Republic's coverage. At a time of a rising Arizona real estate market this appears, on the surface, to be government innovation at its best.
It is both good policy and good politics as it is a way for the conservative Republican to get more money to schools – his soft spot early in his tenure – and do so without raising taxes and the ire of his base.
But as with most reforms there are consequences, and in this case potentially negative ones to the state’s largest industry: tourism. That’s because some of the most attractive state land lies along the 101 Freeway, between Scottsdale Road and WestWorld. And a big chunk of it is used for Waste Management Phoenix Open parking, as well as Barrett-Jackson which saw record crowds last year.
So as development interest for these lands marches east, where will these mega events park, the land one day being gone? What may happen to their economic impact, not just the huge direct numbers but also their utility as economic development tools for Arizona, something Governor Ducey extolled just a few months ago?
The City of Scottsdale doesn’t have a plan. Hopefully, the new State Land Commissioner Lisa Atkins soon will as she takes the helm this month.
There are solutions, but they must be considered very soon. Governor Ducey is a member of the Phoenix Thunderbirds that puts on the most attended golf tournament on the planet. He more than anyone should understand the need to soon address this issue with stakeholders while he nobly initiating new ideas to help Arizona schools.