A new effort to help shape the state's future has been unveiled, and this iteration focuses on concrete goals to change the direction and improve quality of life for those who live in Arizona.
The Center for the Future of Arizona wrote The Arizona We Want 2.0, a plan based on 2009 Gallup polling of Arizonans.
It focuses on eight areas: education, job creation, environment and water, infrastructure, healthcare, young talent, civic engagement and community involvement.
Each is in the 2009 poling, asking Arizona residents what they want. Arizona
Lattie Coor, the executive director of the Center for the Future of Arizona, said the report "stated the most statistically complete sketch of Arizona’s views on issues of importance to them and to their future and it stated it very clearly."
Once the organization had the polling results, it needed to turn to action, which was a challenge, he said.
"It was hard to take it into action. It was hard to say OK if this is what Arizonans want for education, here are the steps to be taken," he said. This new report does that, he said, by listing steps that must be taken to improve in the eight targeted topics.
One example is education. In the polling, Arizonans said they wanted state educational standards to align with national standards.
"There is a very significant curriculum improvement called Common Core standards, and a set of assessments called PARCC, which would replace the AIMS assessment to really elevate the quality of what students are to be taught and will be measured on in Arizona," Coor said. "It’s been adopted by the Legislature, and it needs to be implemented now. So there’s a step. It’s an actionable step; it can happen."
It's incumbent on existing community groups, such as the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, to choose goals and work to achieve them, Coor said.
The council supports the plan, said Ron Shoopman, president of SALC.
He would like to incorporate the goals into policies.
The report says voter apathy and voters’ fatigue on certain issues needs to be addressed. While turnout in some elections is high, it drops in others and voter registration numbers could be higher. Those issues can be addressed in small steps, Shoopman said.
“Getting independents to vote in primaries, huge issue for us. Things like that are areas where we can carve out specific initiatives and go after trying to get this community more engaged in governing ourselves," he said.
This plan is different, Coor said, from previous attempts to fix the state and enhance what’s right because it’s based on the polling research.
“It is the citizen’s voice. It is an absolute picture of all 6.9, 7 million Arizonans," he said. "No other state has one of these nor is there anything else I think in Arizona that kind of stands that ability to say this is what Arizonans want for their future.”
It's also different from other local planning efforts, Shoopman said. Imagine Greater Tucson is going through a process to set the priorities and planning for the Tucson metropolitan area.
“I’d say that this is different, first of all because of the contact on a statewide basis. Imagine Greater Tucson did a great job locally but, now (The Arizona We Want) validates the results that Imagine Greater Tucson got when you look at it from a statewide perspective," Shoopman said.