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GOP lawmakers recommend 'revising' Arizona Commerce Authority

Keeping the Arizona Commerce Authority going is a priority for Gov. Katie Hobbs, but a Republican-controlled panel voted against continuing the agency.

Hobbs mentioned the need to continue the Arizona Commerce Authority in her State of the State speech, and Sen. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) subsequently filed a bill to discontinue the agency altogether.

He chaired a legislative panel on Wednesday where Republicans voted to “revise or consolidate” the agency rather than continue it. 

Hoffman cited an unfavorable audit report from September 2023 as a reason. 

“They did find that there is a systemic lack of process that has led to a big gaping hole where waste fraud and abuse could be occurring,” Hoffman said.

If the legislators don’t continue the agency, it will expire in June. 

Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson declined to comment following the hearing.

On Tuesday, the state attorney general said the Commerce Authority violated the law by using state funds to host “CEO forums.”

Those are events where the Commerce Authority pays for powerful CEOs to visit Arizona, trying to entice them to do business here. 

Hoffman filed his bill to discontinue the agency before the opinion came out, but he still cited it as a reason not to continue the Commerce Authority. 

The ACA is tasked with recruiting and growing business for the state.

“We think a discontinuation of the agency is unacceptable, look the Arizona Commerce Authority has been really successful in creating a lot of good paying jobs for working class Arizonans,” Hobbs’ spokesperson Christian Slater said.

Slater also said the governor’s office disagrees with Mayes’ opinion.

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.