The Influence of Barry Goldwater and Milton Friedman on Former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

During his two terms as governor, Doug Ducey of Arizona achieved several milestones. Firstly, he successfully passed a 2.5 percent flat income tax, reformed public sector pensions, implemented important school choice measures, reformed occupational licensing rules, turned a budget deficit into a surplus, and significantly reduced the size of the government workforce. He also constructed a makeshift border wall, opposed marijuana legalization, and faced criticism from constituents for both excessive and insufficient actions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following his governorship, he now heads Citizens for Free Enterprise and recently received the Reason Foundation’s Savas Award for Privatization. The award recognizes individuals advancing innovative ways to enhance public services by involving the private sector.

In a discussion with Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason, Ducey shared his thoughts on the future of the Republican Party, his belief in fusionism, and the unique nature of Arizona politics. Ducey suggested that Arizona’s character as a young state, with a large influx of transplants and independent-mindedness, attributes to its unorthodox politicians. He also noted that, despite a recent trend towards a Democratic lean, the state remains center-right, citing his electoral victory with a conservative message and a strong showing among Hispanic voters.

When questioned about his tax policies, Ducey emphasized persistence and a commitment to lowering and simplifying taxes every year to fulfill his campaign pledge. He recounted a hard-fought battle to defeat an initiative that aimed to raise taxes, ultimately leading to the implementation of a flat tax rate of 2.5 percent. Ducey believes that other states can replicate this approach by growing their economies to generate surplus funds and work towards a fair and equitable flat tax system.

Reflecting on his broader goal to minimize government and promote economic growth, Ducey highlighted the example of Texas and its success in attracting international businesses. Drawing from his private sector experience, he rooted for a “search and re-apply” approach to bring best practices from other states to Arizona. Ultimately, he believes that shrinking the government’s size and reining in spending are essential for long-term economic prosperity.

In conclusion, Ducey’s tenure as governor was defined by his fervent dedication to tax reform, spending reduction, and economic growth. While his policies and decisions continued to be critiqued, he remains committed to the principles that shaped his leadership in Arizona.