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Happy 112th Birthday, Arizona!

February 14, 2024

It’s Arizona Statehood Day—that means today is Arizona’s 112th birthday! Arizona became the 48th state to join the union, but it wasn’t easy. Arizonans were determined to keep their Constitution in its original form, but to their dismay, Congress wouldn’t admit them unless they modified it to President William Howard Taft’s liking. On Valentine’s Day—February 14th, 1912—Arizona was finally admitted after changing its Constitution. But in true Arizona fashion, the “Valentine State” seized its opportunity and changed the Constitution back to its original form that very same year.

In honor of Arizona’s 112th birthday, let’s look at the opportunities Arizonans have grasped and are now free to pursue.

Arizonans have the opportunity to choose the best educational path for their children. Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program, which Goldwater created more than a decade ago, has been hugely successful in empowering parents to customize their child’s education experience to best meet their needs. ESAs have gone from serving 100 students in 2011 to over 70,000 today, and thanks to Goldwater’s expansion of this program to every student in the state, more than one million students are now eligible. This universal school choice expansion, the largest in U.S. history, provides new opportunities for students who need them the most and offers a blueprint for the rest of the nation to follow.

Arizonans have the opportunity to exercise their right to earn a living in the profession of their choice. New arrivals who hold an occupational license in one state are often forced to go through more studying and training in order to do the same job when they move to a new state. But Goldwater’s universal recognition reform, which the Institute passed in Arizona in 2019, allows a licensed professional to apply for and be quickly granted a license to work based on the training or testing he or she has already completed. To date, nearly 10,000 professionals have been granted a license to work in Arizona under universal recognition—and more than half the states in the country have since followed Arizona’s lead in breaking down barriers to work. So, whether you’re a cosmetologist moving from Texas, or a doctor moving from New York, you’ll have the opportunity to earn your living in the Grand Canyon state—no strings attached.

Arizonans have the opportunity to access treatment that could save their life. Last year, Arizona became the first state in the nation to pass the Right to Try for Individualized Treatments, a landmark Goldwater reform that expands the original Right to Try law by opening the door to cutting-edge, personalized treatments that are otherwise blocked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ordinarily, new medical treatments have to be approved by the FDA before they can be made available to patients, but the latest treatments are tailor-made for one individual, based on their genetics, and by definition cannot go through typical FDA processes in a timely manner. Patients, especially those with rare and ultra-rare illnesses, are either left with no options or are forced to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and move overseas to access treatments that are not available in the United States. And that’s where Right to Try for Individualized treats comes in, cutting bureaucratic red tape and protecting seriously ill patients’ right to access potentially lifesaving treatments.

Ronald Reagan said, “My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.” As Arizona celebrates its 112th birthday, the Goldwater Institute will always fight to ensure that Arizonans have access to more opportunities—opportunities that will empower them to live to freer, happier lives.



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