Ducey’s goals are fairly mod­est.

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page -

If there’s go­ing to be heavy lift­ing in the 2018 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, you wouldn’t know it from the gover­nor’s State of the State ad­dress.

On Monday, Doug Ducey out­lined his pol­icy plan for the year and it can best be de­scribed as mod­est.

If there wasn’t much to feed the hun­gry beast, there also wasn’t much to serve chal­lengers who might try to use it to take down the gover­nor in the 2018 elec­tion.

This felt like a cam­paign-year speech. Rich in self-pro­mo­tion. Poor in de­tails.

Those Ari­zo­nans who waited pa­tiently with ears perked to hear the words “education fund­ing,” were surely dis­ap­pointed by such lit­tle speci­ficity.

“This week, I will re­lease my bud­get,” said Ducey. “It will in­clude a full com­mit­ment to ac­cel­er­ate the state’s K-12 investment, and re­store long-stand­ing cuts from the re­ces­sion made be­fore many of us were here.”

He ex­plained that 80 per­cent of his “new bud­get pri­or­i­ties” will be for pub­lic education.

What that means in dol­lars re­mains to be seen. But with the gover­nor ex­plain­ing he has iden­ti­fied waste in other ar­eas of state gov­ern­ment that will be di­rected to pub­lic schools, ad­vo­cates of more ro­bust spend­ing must be brac­ing for bread crumbs.

Miss­ing was talk of ex­tend­ing Propo­si­tion 301, the 0.6 cent education sales tax that pro­vides $600 mil­lion an­nu­ally and is on the verge of sun­set in mid-2021.

State lead­ers will need to move as­sertively in the com­ing years to pre­vent that fund­ing from go­ing off the cliff and cre­at­ing a fund­ing cri­sis in Ari­zona schools.

Education ad­vo­cates were hop­ing the gover­nor could get be­hind not only an ex­ten­sion of 301, but an in­crease that could be­gin to ad­dress the state’s se­ri­ous teacher short­age.

At the top of Ducey’s agenda was a celebration of pow­er­ful women in Ari­zona. If ever you needed con­vinc­ing that the Har­vey We­in­stein scan­dal is chang­ing America, look at the words of the con­ser­va­tive GOP gover­nor of the red state of Ari­zona:

Those pow­er­ful women “fought with grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion for fair treat­ment, and achieved great­ness,” Ducey said. “And they didn’t do it for women in the year 2018 to face dis­crim­i­na­tion, misog­yny or ha­rass­ment.”

With sex­ual-ha­rass­ment scan­dals brew­ing in vir­tu­ally ev­ery state leg­is­la­ture in America, and with The Ari­zona

Repub­lic re­port­ing Sun­day on a per­va­sive cli­mate of sex­ism at our Capi­tol, Ducey spoke with power that sex­ual ha­rass­ment will not be tol­er­ated in the wings of West Wash­ing­ton Street.

“It should go with­out say­ing, but it bears re­peat­ing: Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual de­serves to be treated with dig­nity and re­spect,” he said. “Al­ways. No ex­cep­tions. Pri­vate sec­tor. Pub­lic sec­tor. In my of­fice. In state agen­cies. In this cham­ber. And every­where else.”

But where the gover­nor was forth­right about con­duct in the work­place, he was re­served on the topic of wa­ter — one of the most im­por­tant is­sues fac­ing the state.

He called on law­mak­ers to fol­low the lead of Ari­zona’s trail­blaz­ers in wa­ter pol­icy from the last cen­tury to “put forward re­spon­si­ble poli­cies that en­sure Ari­zona speaks with one voice to se­cure the state’s wa­ter fu­ture for gen­er­a­tions to come.”

To­day, the state doesn’t speak with one voice, and a rup­ture in friendly re­la­tions has put the Ari­zona Depart­ment of Wa­ter Re­sources in con­flict with board mem­bers and staff at the Cen­tral Ari­zona Pro­ject.

Some of Ducey’s best words, spo­ken in a gen­eral sense, might have been more aptly aimed at this im­passe:

“By work­ing to­gether, with a spirit of ser­vice; with integrity, hu­mil­ity — by for­get­ting about who should get the credit — we can move Ari­zona forward, and in a way that will make our fel­low ci­ti­zens proud. So let’s get to work.”

The gover­nor showed his com­mit­ment to pub­lic health with a call for spe­cial ses­sion on the opi­oid cri­sis.

“Since I last stood at this podium, we’ve lost more than 800 Ari­zo­nans to opi­oids,” Ducey said. “These are real lives and real peo­ple. Gone. Some­one’s mom, their dad. Daugh­ters and sons. All ages. All in­comes. Fam­i­lies, mar­riages and lives torn apart, trag­i­cally and un­ex­pect­edly be­cause of a po­tent drug mis­pre­scribed, over­pre­scribed — and then, be­fore you know it, it’s too late. There’s no turn­ing back.”

Ari­zona has taken steps to stop the free flow of doc­tor-pre­scribed opi­oids that end up in the hands of ad­dicts. But such action has re­coil, with those same ad­dicts turn­ing to much more deadly and ad­dic­tive street heroin to serve their habits.

The gover­nor is right to put a spot­light on this health-care emer­gency.

Ducey is a gover­nor in a tough spot. He over­sees a state that is not slosh­ing in loose cash post-re­ces­sion. He de­serves credit for throw­ing a bri­dle around the struc­tural deficit and for try­ing to fund education at the same time.

He wants to be known as the “education gover­nor,” and that will not hap­pen un­less he finds the re­sources to push more money into pub­lic schools. It’s a hard task un­der chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances.

But he asked for the job.

And he’ll be ask­ing us again later this year.

TOM TINGLE/THE REPUB­LIC

If there’s go­ing to be heavy lift­ing in the 2018 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, you wouldn’t know it from the gover­nor’s State of the State ad­dress. On Monday, Doug Ducey out­lined what was a mostly mod­est set of goals.

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