The big take­aways from Ducey’s speech.

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page -

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.

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