After retiring from Honeywell, Bob and Gayle became small business owners. They owned and operated several businesses, including five Elementary Preparatory Schools. The combined schools were licensed to care for five hundred students per day. After twenty seven years of operation, they sold their schools and now manage their commercial real estate properties.
In 1989, Bob began his career in public service as an elected State Representative. In the House of Representatives Bob was a distinguished leader. He was Chairman of Appropriations, and served on many committees, including: Health, Judiciary, Ways and Means, Transportation, and Insurance.
In 2001, Bob was elected as a member of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for overseeing the management of the Central Arizona Project, a 336-mile long system of aqueducts, tunnels, pumping plants and pipelines, and is the largest single resource of renewable water supplies in the state of Arizona. It is also the largest user of electrical power in Arizona.
In 2003, Bob was elected to the Arizona State Senate, where he again distinguished himself as an outstanding leader. Bob served as Chairman of Appropriations, and on a number of committees, including Rules, and Finance.
In 2009, Bob was elected as President of the Arizona Senate, and served as such until 2010. During the twenty years that Bob served in the Legislature, he was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee for fourteen years.
While serving in the Legislature, Bob Burns received many recognitions and awards, including:
- “Watchdog Award”. An award given by the Arizona Tax Research Association to legislators who fight for the taxpayer and target wasteful spending in government.
- “Legislator of the Year”. An award given by the American Legislative Exchange Council to state legislators who have distinguished themselves by taking a leadership role in advancing, introducing, and/or enacting policies based on principles of free markets, limited government, and individual liberty.
- “Senator of the Year”. Awarded by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
- “Champion of the Taxpayer”. Awarded by Americans for Prosperity.
- "Nations Renewable Energy Leader". Business Facilities Magazine.
- Autism Society of America "dedication and leadership at the Arizona Legislature".
Bob’s public and community service extends beyond his substantial time in the Legislature. As an active member of the community, Bob has served on the Board of Directors for Friends of the West Valley Recreation Corridor, is a member of Arizona Town Hall, and is a member of the Glendale Kachina Rotary Club.
In 1996, Bob initiated the legislation that created the Arizona Telemedicine Program. He became the first Chair of the Telemedicine Council and continues to serve in that capacity. In the past, Bob has sponsored an in-line rollerblade hockey team, sponsored and coached numerous Summer Baseball League teams, and held membership in the Arizona, Phoenix and Glendale Chambers of Commerce.
Bob Burns was born and raised in Rolfe, Iowa. He and Gayle have been married for 52 years, and have two sons, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.