The Arizona We Have

In order to create an action plan that can achieve the goals of the people who live here, CFA will help Arizonans understand who we are today, identify and address high-impact issues that are gaining momentum and need attention and provide opportunities for public discussion and planning focused on long-term issues.

Center for the Future of Arizona highlights and examines a set of facts, projections and uncertainties that must be considered and addressed in order for Arizona to truly come of age, and become a place where people feel connected, optimistic and excited about being part of the state’s future.


  1. Consistently, since statehood, almost two-thirds of Arizonans were born elsewhere. National polling data shows that we may look like the rest of the nation in terms of our aspirations and political views, but we don’t behave like the rest of the nation in our citizen participation.

  2. Arizonans are growing younger, older and more diverse. Latinos will become the majority population in Arizona by 2028. We are also becoming younger and older than national averages.

  3. Arizona’s productivity and prosperity are declining compared to U.S. averages and those of many neighboring states. Despite the size of our economy (GDP), the state’s productivity is declining in ways that impact our economic competitiveness.

  4. One in five Arizonans live in poverty and the per capita income of Arizonans has declined. Over the past two decades, our per capita income has slipped to just over 80% of the national average.

  5. Arizona citizens are not as fully engaged as we must be if our goals are to be realized. Our civic participation rates are in the bottom quartile.


  1. 68% of Arizona jobs will require postsecondary education and training by 2020. The impact on wages and workforce development will be profound.

  2. Unless Arizonans focus on results for all students with a comprehensive long-term funding plan, the debate over education will continue with little or no progress made. One of the highest priorities among Arizonans is for children to graduate from high school prepared for success in college, career and life as measured by national and international standards. They also want job training opportunities for Arizonans of all ages.

  3. Water and other resource management issues will grow in urgency throughout Arizona and the west. Arizonans need a better understanding of water management—the interdependent relationships we have with the federal government, tribal governments, neighboring states and international corporations. The same is true for other environmental issues.

  4. The state of our infrastructure is somewhat positive but at risk due to declining investments. Arizona faces a daunting challenge—how to prioritize $89 billion of projected transportation needs with $26 billion of expected revenue.

  5. Primary election results in Arizona will continue to determine general election results in most cases. The growing disconnect between citizens and government at state and federal levels will gain increasing attention.


  1. What are the constraints to visionary leadership today and what needs to change? The state’s budgeting process and 2 to 4 -year election cycles keep our attention focused on short-term concerns.
  2. What is the biggest challenge Arizonans must confront to ensure our economic competitiveness? The most important factors are the quality and availability of our workforce, a modern physical infrastructure, sound water management and the overall cost of doing business here.

  3. Will Arizona leaders commit to a long-term investment strategy? Future decisions about revenues, expenditures and long-term investments must be evaluated by the results of the decisions we make.

  4. How can Arizona provide a predictable legal path for everyone who lives and works here? Although this is primarily a federal issue, Arizonans must continuously work to help shape a sensible and enduring solution.

  5. Will Arizonans become more actively involved in helping shape the state’s future? Significantly increased citizen participation in urging leaders at all levels to adopt our citizen goals will be essential to ensuring that we realize the Arizona we want.

Read the report to find out more