PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer touted Arizona's economic comeback Friday in an address to publishers and editors attending the National Newspaper Association's convention that was also laced with a one-liner about mittens and finger-wagging and praise for the industry's compassion when it covers tragedy.
Brewer addressed the group attending its annual convention and trade show at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix and urged editors and publishers to return home and tell their readers about what she calls the "Arizona comeback."
She spoke of the huge state deficit she faced when she took office five years ago and how the state ended this year with a surplus.
She touted her efforts to cut red tape and new regulations, rein in what she called wasteful and unsustainable spending and trim the state's workforce to the second-lowest per capita of any state. And she spoke of successful efforts in the GOP-controlled Legislature to cut corporate and capital gains taxes, lowering corporate and business property taxes and simplifying the state's complex sales tax collection system.
"So, after all that, Arizona has gone from a $3 billion deficit to a completely balanced budget with an estimated $1 billion surplus, including $450 million rainy day fund for the next time crisis strikes," she said.
The four-day convention allows community newspaper owners, publishers and senior staff to attend educational sessions and hear panels discuss current trends and industry best practices. Topics Friday included investigative reporting, reaching the next generation, classifieds, design, audience engagement and the Affordable Care Act.
Brewer opened with a joke about how her staff wanted her to wear mittens so a newspaper photographer would have no chance of seeing her wag her finger, which she famously did to President Barack Obama last year while greeting him on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
But she concluded with praise for the newspaper industry, saying it is a critical part of the nation's fabric, even if at times "those of us in government battle with the media."
"We need you to succeed to ensure that our citizens are well educated and engaged in the success of America," she said.
She also praised reporters for their actions in the wake of the deaths of 19 firefighters in Yarnell in June.
"In the middle of that big story, I saw firsthand the compassion of many reporters who did their jobs well...but also gave the families and grieving neighbors their room," Brewer said.