By REP. ANTHONY KERN
Foothills Focus Guest Writer
For many Arizonans, April has been a lost month. Little to no work has been available, our normal forms of recreation became a thing of the past, economic worries came to the forefront.
But after taking this month off due to the outbreak of the virus that originated in Wuhan, China, it is now time to reopen Arizona. We need to do so in a methodical way, paying attention to protecting our vulnerable communities, such as the elderly in nursing homes. But for the vast majority of the state’s residents, the month of May represents the perfect opportunity to resume our normal daily life.
Movie theaters and restaurants should open, though likely with smaller capacities for the time being. Parks and playgrounds can once again play host to children enjoying the equipment and Arizona’s wonderful outdoors. Churches can fill their places of worship, office workers can return to work and retail stores can open their doors to shoppers.
The deep wounds suffered by Arizona, its businesses and residents caused severe pain. For instance, our tourism industry suffered a $1.2 billion hit in just the first few weeks of the disease. The Cactus League had to cut its season short, robbing fans of enjoying the sun and baseball we are used to every March. Hotels and restaurants, often full with out-of-state visitors during our beautiful spring months, shuttered or drastically reduced their service.
The state budget may see a tax shortfall of anywhere from $500 million to $1.5 billion. We are still waiting for a clearer picture, but no matter the final number, some difficult decisions on spending cuts may have to be made. Thankfully, the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey built a $1 billion rainy-day fund to help us get past any disastrous downturn.
Like many of my neighbors, I know I can’t wait to visit Tacos Tijuana for its wonderful tacos and then take a walk with my family at Sahuaro Ranch Park. Arizona does best when its residents are working hard to support a strong economy.
We will never make up for the lost month of April. The substantial harm from the virus inflicted substantial pain on Arizona and the entire country.
Getting back to work now, however, will blunt that negative impact without posing harm to the general public. Arizona’s economy will recover thanks to the action taken by Gov. Ducey and the Legislature, but now it is time to get back to what we do best: working hard to support our families and enjoying our time with family and friends at restaurants, golf courses, movie theaters and parks.