Gov. Ducey promises a year of education reform and economic improvement

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey emphasized the progress his administration has made in the past year in balancing the state’s budget on Monday and promised to move billions of dollars into education funding in 2016.

The governor addressed the Legislature in the annual State of the State address, talking on issues ranging from revamping state education to embarrassing “deadbeat” fathers on social media, while also looking back on 2015.

“The state of our state isn’t just strong. It’s on the rise,” Ducey said.

In addition to highlighting the balanced budget, Ducey said the state’s economy created 56,000 new jobs and his administration lowered taxes.

In anticipation of the release of his 2016 budget on Friday, and with the state now operating in the black, he promised to prioritize education funding, while still lowering taxes. And when he announced that he was voting yes on Proposition 123, the audience gave him a standing ovation.

The proposition will be voted on in May and would bring $3.5 billion to Arizona education as part of a lawsuit settlement.

“Together, we will lower taxes this year, next year and the year after,” Ducey said. “And we will invest in education this year, next year and the year after.”

But not all of those who attended the address were so enthusiastic about Proposition 123.

Political campaign volunteer Angie Matturro said she thought it was just a short-term fix following Ducey’s education cuts last year.

Austin Marshall, president of the ASU Young Democrats, said the proposition was only the beginning and that Ducey’s budget will speak for itself.

“I’d like to see the governor step up when he talks about universities, and I’d like to see him invest more,” he said. “It’s the issue on everyone’s mind.”

Additionally, the governor promised to:

  • Rebuild and repair schools.
  • Focus on career and technical education.
  • Allow children in foster care a “fast pass” when it comes to getting into the best public
    schools.

On the economy, Ducey talked about:

  • Encouraging more start-ups and businesses to come to Arizona.
  • Protecting small businesses and employees by changing the distribution of state-shared revenue.
  • Lifting restrictions on Uber and Lyft at Sky Harbor International Airport.

In regards to law enforcement, he said he wants to:

  • Create a law enforcement team to resolve the 2,300 uninvestigated rape kits in Maricopa County.
  • Ramp up border resources to prevent more drugs from entering the state.
  • Create a corrections center to prevent recidivism in state prisons.

The governor even commented on financially irresponsible fathers, threatening to launch a social media campaign with the hashtag “deadbeat” to publicize and embarrass fathers who do not provide for their children. The state Department of Economic Security started sending tweets shortly after Ducey concluded.

In closing, he said, “We’ve demonstrated government can work. Positive things can happen at this Capitol. We can think big, and aim high. So why stop now.”