Shaping Arizona Policy
Drought Contingency Plan (DCP)
Throughout 2017 and 2018 HighGround worked with a broad coalition of stakeholders to provide leadership, strategy, survey research, messaging and communications support to push the Arizona Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) through the Arizona Legislature. On January 31, 2019 the Arizona Legislature passed the Senate Joint Resolution 1001 authorizing Arizona to join the DCP by a combined vote of 89 to 1, and it was signed by the Governor the very same day. A package of water policies also passed the legislature the same day in SB 1227 with only three dissenting votes. HighGround worked through the Governor’s water conversation in 2017, the DWR-CAP Steering Committee in 2018 and countless informal working groups to bring a solution-based presence to the many voices working for policy change. Arizona will face a near 20% cut in its Colorado River water as the 19-year drought continues, and the DCP provides a framework for Arizona to manage this reduction. Over 300,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water will be provided to Pinal County farmers in the first three years of the seven-year DCP and at the same time 400,000 acre-feet of water will be maintained in Lake Mead so that the river system will realize a net benefit. HighGround’s clients in this effort included the Water for Arizona Coalition which is a coalition of non-profit conservation groups advocating for sound policy for Arizona surface and groundwater, the City of Tucson, Mohave County, and the Mohave County Water Authority.
Education Funding and Reform
For the past four years, voters consistently picked education as the top issue facing the State of Arizona. Education quality and funding was at the forefront of the 2018 Gubernatorial Election Cycle including the debate surrounding Proposition 305 and the RedforEd movement. HighGround has spent the last few years working with coalitions of organizations and individuals within the education community to improve community dialogue and foster the development of organic policy initiatives. We performed polling, strategic planning, and research on a wide variety of topics including stable long-term funding options for education.
Since 2010, the HighGround team has gathered concrete data from polling likely
Restoring Arizona - Medicaid Restoration
HighGround and Burns & Associates worked with the Governor’s Office, Arizona Health Care Coalition, and the Restoring Arizona business coalition to provide strategy, survey research, messaging, and coalition support for the restoration of Arizona’s Medicaid program. The restoration was passed by the Legislature, signed by Governor Brewer, and withstood an aggressive referral attempt. Ultimately the effort protected the rainy day fund, reduced uncompensated care, and prevented 63,000 Arizonans from losing their health care at the end of the year.
Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) Reform
On behalf of the League of Arizona Cities & Towns and the firm’s other municipal clients, HighGround played a leading role in protecting the interests of local governments. The original legislation, a product of Governor Jan Brewer’s ‘Tax Simplification Task Force,’ threatened cities’ ability to administer and audit the tax, as well as detrimentally changing how construction sales tax would be calculated and collected. On the last day of session, a compromise was brokered which included a higher level of participation from cities and towns concerning the administration and auditing of the TPT tax. Additionally, the vital construction sales tax largely remained as is, with the exception of the “services” tax which will be moved to point of purchase.
Balancing Arizona’s Budget – Proposition 100
Worked with Governor Brewer’s office, business, and education leaders to pass a budget that contained a mix of cuts, borrowing, and temporary revenue. The temporary one cent budget measure was referred to the voters as Proposition 100 in May of 2010. Highground assisted as a strategic consultant to Integrated Web Strategies in their efforts. Proposition 100 passed with 64.3% of the vote.
Privatization of SCF AZ
Requires effective January 1, 2013, a mutual insurer corporation become the successor in interest to al the assets and liabilities of the State Compensation Fund.
Safe Communities Act
HighGround worked to allow the court to adjust a person’s length of probation if the person is qualified for earned time credit. It provides a process for a portion of the cost savings from a reduction in probation revocations to be used for probation programs.
Appropriation to build the ASU Polytechnic Institute
Worked with ASU and local leaders to secure an appropriated $103 million to construct a Polytechnic Academic Complex to be located at the ASU East Campus.
BCS National Championship Game
HighGround worked on and passed enabling legislation to create a special use agreement to allow the stadium to host the newly created BCS National Championship Game. It also included establishing a mechanism to return transaction privilege tax revenues from ticket sales, ticket surcharges, or parking related user fees to the appropriate parties.
Maricopa County Hospital District
Our team was the principal public affairs and lobbying team for the legislation that authorized the creation of the new Maricopa County Hospital District on behalf of Maricopa County. Following the successful passage of the legislation, HighGround was retained as the principal campaign consultant for the Yes on 414 Committee, which won voter approval from Maricopa County voters in November of 2003.
Regional Transportation Plan
For over three years, HighGround, Inc. served as the principle public affairs consultant for the Associated General Contractors, the Arizona Rock Products Association and the Arizona Business Coalition in developing the ½ cent transportation sales tax extension plan to be considered by Maricopa County voters. The majority of the members of this team managed this issue through two legislative sessions that saw the establishment of the transportation process and the approval of the plan developed by the process. The team moved on to manage the campaign for the passage of Proposition 400 on the November 2004 general election ballot.
HighGround has a long history of working with the Salt River Project. One significant project ensured that SRP is able to generate enough affordable electricity to meet Arizona’s growing demands. HighGround helped SRP develop an Arizona organization which included the East Valley Partnership, WESTMARC, the Arizona Association of Industries and the East Valley Chamber Alliance as well as many neighbors and neighborhood groups. The campaign was successful in creating a positive public environment that encouraged the development of additional electrical generating capacity for Arizona consumers such as the expansion of the San Tan Generating Station in Gilbert.
Defeated Growth Management Initiative
HighGround worked with the Arizona Association of Realtors to build a coalition of Realtors and the development industry throughout Arizona to successfully defeat the Sierra Club’s Proposition 202, the Growth Management Initiative.
HighGround, Inc. was among the first consultants hired to help create the Stadium district that ultimately led to the construction of the multi-use facility. Established a Tourism and Sports Authority for the purpose of constructing, financing, and promoting a multipurpose facility, major league baseball spring training facilities, and community youth and amateur sports facilities.
Growing Smarter Legislative Package and Preserve Arizona Ballot
HighGround, Inc. helped build the diverse coalition of conservation groups, elected officials and others to create the Arizona Growing Smarter Act. The team then lobbied to successfully pass legislation and successfully managed the passage of Proposition 303, the Preserve Arizona Initiative in 1998. This is the only public land management campaign to gain voter approval in modern Arizona history.
Disproportionate Share Funding
Even prior to the formation of the company, our members worked with Peter Burns and the Republican Governors Association to establish Republican policy position on health care funding and disproportionate share funding.
Juvenile Justice Initiative
HighGround worked as the principal consultant on the juvenile justice initiative. The law required that 15-17 year old juveniles who were charged with murder, armed robbery or rape to be remanded to adult court. The initiative passed with 62.9% of the vote.