The big takeaways from Ducey’s speech.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey delivered his fourth State of the State speech Monday afternoon. Some major takeaways:
1. Education promises, few details
Ducey focused the bulk of the education portion of his speech on trying to “get some facts straight” by touting improved student performance and additional K-12 spending under his administration.
Specifically, he noted that overall inflation-adjusted funding per student in Arizona has increased by 10 percent since 2015. Arizona spent an inflation-adjusted $3,782 per student in 2015, compared to $4,157 per student in 2018, according to documents from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
But both those figures remain below what Arizona spent per student in 2008 and are unlikely to satisfy those who argue that schools are underfunded.
A recent study by the progressive think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found Arizona cut more K-12 funding than any other state between 2008 and 2015.
Ducey in his speech vowed to “restore long-standing cuts from the recession made before many of us were here.”
He listed seven specific areas — including full-day kindergarten and new school buses — where his budget would invest more dollars toward education. The details are expected in his budget proposal Friday.
2. Regulating blow-dry bars
Ducey said he would continue to emphasize rolling back regulations, a hallmark of his first term. This year, it seems to be all about hair.
He revisited an anecdote about Juan Carlos Montesdeoca, a Tucson man who was threatened by the State Board of Cosmetology last year because he gave free haircuts to people who were homeless. Ducey intervened and got the board to back off.
He said Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s, R-Scottsdale, new bill will eliminate regulations on hair stylists who want to blow-dry hair, which he said requires an unreasonable amount of training and experience.
He said frivolous regulations would continue to see rollbacks.
“A word of advice to those bureaucrats, and, yes, even some elected officials, who are resisting this effort: The train is leaving the station. Get on board, or you’re going to get left behind,” he said.
3. No income-tax update
Ducey did not mention reductions in personal-income taxes. During his campaign for governor four years ago, he said he hoped to reduce those taxes to “as close to zero as possible.”
He did mention a desire to increase the tax exemption for military retirement pay to benefit some of the state’s 600,000 veterans. The exemption amount hasn’t increased in the 30 years since it was created, he said.
“So please, send me a bill that increases the exemption and demonstrates to our vets that we value this service,” he said.
4. Shift in child-welfare focus
Ducey touted improvements at the state Department of Child Safety, among them an increasing number of adoptions of kids from the foster-care system.
In a news release after the speech, the governor said he will seek $16 million for increased adoption subsidies.
Adoptions were up 9 percent over the last year, with 2,110 children adopted in the six-month period of March through September 2017, DCS statistics show.
The adoption push comes as the agency has shifted its training to lean more toward keeping families together, rather than taking children from their homes.
5. Nailing wrong-way drivers
The governor urged lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow prosecutors to charge impaired wrongway drivers with felonies — even if they do not cause fatal crashes.
Ducey’s office also said his budget will include $1.4 million to increase the Department of Public Safety’s night-patrol program to catch wrong-way drivers.