Video: Gov. Ducey's priorities are water, school safety, career and technical education funding - AZEdNews
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Video: Gov. Ducey’s priorities are water, school safety, career and technical education funding

Gov Doug Ducey At His State Of The State Address Jan. 14, 2019 At The Arizona Capitol In Phoenix. Photo Courtesy Of Arizona Capitol Television

Gov. Doug Ducey said securing Arizona’s water future is his chief priority during his State of the State address, and he said he is committed to increasing career and technical education funding as well as getting the school safety plan created with input from groups around the state approved by legislators this year.

Arizona’s drought contingency plan must be approved by Jan. 31, 2019
 to avoid cuts by the federal government to the state’s water allocation from the Colorado River.

“As I traveled the state this year it was one of the issues I was asked about most,” Ducey said. “It’s an issue that deserves your focus and attention which is why it’s first on my list.”

“We’re in a 19-year drought. It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Ducey said. “Arizona and our neighboring states draw more water from the Colorado River than Mother Nature puts back. It’s time to protect Lake Mead and Arizona. It’s time to ratify the Drought Contingency Plan and we have 17 days to do it.”

ASBA video by Mary Irish and Brooke Razo: 2019 Arizona State of the State Address

Ducey recognized and thanked former Gov. Bruce Babbitt and former Sen. John Kyl for their work on water conservation over the years.

“Now, it’s our turn to do the heavy lifting,” Ducey said. “It’s our economy, our environment and our future. Let’s work together in a bipartisan fashion to get this done.”

“The Arizona Chamber Foundation commends Governor Doug Ducey for underscoring the urgency at which lawmakers must work in order to ratify the Drought Contingency Plan,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, CEO of the nonprofit dedicated to expanding economic opportunity in Arizona.

“Arizona water stakeholders have been working diligently since June to develop a plan to manage the establishment of Arizona’s water reductions, and the federal government has made it clear that it will step in to dictate the state’s future water reductions should the Drought Contingency Plan not be signed before Jan. 31,” Gullickson said.

ABC 15 video: Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State address

Gov. Ducey delivers state of state address

Governor Doug Ducey is delivering the state of the state address outlining his 2019 plan for Arizona.

Posted by ABC15 Arizona on Monday, January 14, 2019

Click here for full text of Gov. Ducey’s State of the State address

“Arizona has a proud history of making difficult but necessary decisions about water use in our state. Governor Ducey has committed $41 million to support water conservation and infrastructure projects. It is our hope that water users, the Legislature and the Governor will work together and secure our water future,” Gullickson said.

Last week, the Foundation released a policy brief, The Colorado River: The Seven-State Drought Contingency Plan and Pathway to Adoption, which summarizes the plan and approval needed to activate it.

Reducing legislation

Ducey challenged lawmakers to reduce unnecessary laws and legislation.

He also urged legislators to get rid of legislative immunity, “because no one is above the law.”

“Let’s show the people of Arizona that their elected leaders will live under the same laws as everyone in the state,” Ducey said.

Arizona Capitol Television video: Ducey on reducing legislation

School safety

The Safe Arizona School’s plan with more school counselors, more police officers on campus, improved background checks and restricted access to firearms for people who are a lethal threat “will make our schools safer and it’s time for us to get this done,” Ducey said.

Ducey said the plan includes a police officer on each campus and will be included in the budget that he’ll release Friday, with more money proposed for it than last year.

“We have a responsibility to do something for our kids and we have to do it this session,” Ducey said.

Education funding

Ducey said more is needed for K-12 education funding with a focus on results, reforms and resources.

“Education is not the only issue facing our great state, but if we truly want to lay the groundwork for a strong future, education must be Arizona’s top priority,” said Christine M. Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona.

“The strength and health of our state comes from its people, and nothing unlocks the potential of individuals like a high-quality education. Teacher pay, school safety and career and technical education are vital elements of a strong P-20 education system, and the attention and investments cannot stop there,” Thompson said.

The Arizona Education Progress Meter serves as a reminder of the goals the state aims to meet by 2030 and the Roadmap for P-20 Education Funding outlines the long-term investments needed to reach those goals and support the success of every student every step of the way, Thompson said.

Ducey said the additional 5 percent teacher pay increase that is part of the governor’s 20 percent pay increase for teachers by the year 2020 plan will also be included in his budget proposal that will be released Friday.

More needs to be done to address the teacher shortage, Ducey said.

“Four years ago, I heard what sounded like a really good idea to address the teacher shortage,” Ducey said. “If someone graduates from an Arizona university, is willing to stay in Arizona, and teach in a public school, why not allow them to graduate debt-free by providing a scholarship?”

Ducey thanked Fred DuVal, the newest member of the Arizona Board of Regents and his former rival for the governor’s office, for proposing the plan.

“So we turned it into reality and launched the Arizona Teachers Academy. Already, 221 students have started working through the program,” Ducey said. “This year we plan to significantly expand it – more dollars, more support. We are going to create a pipeline of talent and the next generation of Arizona teachers.”

Career and technical education

Education and the economy go hand in hand, Ducey said.

“Today, we have more jobs available in the State of Arizona than we have people to fill them,” Ducey said. “Whenever and wherever a skilled trade is needed, Arizona is available to meet the demand.”

Career and technical education is critical to Arizonans’ success, and students who take part in it have a much higher graduation rate, so it makes sense to provide additional funding for it, Ducey said.

“These are programs we plan to build, expand and align with the jobs of tomorrow, and my budget will do just that,” Ducey said.

Plans for $1 B surplus

The growing economy has led to a surplus in the state general fund that Ducey said should be saved to weather the next economic downturn or recession without having to make severe cuts to education public safety and other services, which happened during the Great Recession in 2008.

Arizona Capitol Television video: Gov. Doug Ducey on what to do with the $1 B surplus

“For a surplus year, this budget is pretty light reading, because I’m proposing that we bring our rainy day fund to a record balance of $1 billion,” Ducey said.

“Arizona will hold the line on taxes, it’s a winning game plan and I have no intention of changing that,” Ducey said.

Ducey said he had high hopes that this will be the Arizona Legislature’s most productive session yet, and urged legislators to put party labels aside and do the work that matters and needs to get done.

Video: Gov. Ducey's priorities are water, school safety, career and technical education funding saving_for_tomorrow-791x1024

2:00 p.m. –Education, water management and public safety will be among the priorities highlighted in Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State address that begins shortly.

Before 1:30 p.m. – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will outline his education and other budget priorities during his State of the State address at 2 p.m. today at the Arizona Legislature’s opening session at the capitol in Phoenix.

Gov. Ducey is expected to talk about education funding, his school safety plan and especially developing a drought plan by Jan. 31 to avoid cuts by the federal government to the state’s water allocation from the Colorado River.

At noon today, the Arizona Legislature’s House of Representatives and Senate held their opening day ceremonies.

“They and we still have a lot of work to do, and I’m pleased to welcome them back in 2019,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Charlene Fernandez, as she introduced her guests #RedForEd members and Jordan Harb, a co-organizer of March for Our Lives Arizona during the opening ceremony at the Arizona House of Representatives.

Majority Leader Sen. Rick Gray introduced his wife Lisa Gray, Youngtown Mayor Mike LeVault and other guests during the opening day ceremonies of the Arizona Legislature.

Sen. Martin Quezada introduced his guests which included student leaders with the March for Our Lives Arizona Jacob Martinez and Nathan Simmons, and Mariana Sandoval a member of the Agua Fria Union School District, among other guests.

Gov. Ducey’s budget proposal will be presented to the public on Friday, Jan. 18.

Last year, the Arizona Legislature approved a $10.4 billion budget that included Ducey’s proposal to increase teacher pay 20 percent by 2020 after the #RedForEd led walkout of educators.

Strong economic growth has added about $1.1 billion to the state’s general fund, and legislators will consider what to do with it as they develop the budget. Of the roughly $1 billion surplus, only about $200 million can be used for ongoing spending, while the rest can be used for one-time spending, said Steve Schimpp, assistant director of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and education analyst.

On KTAR News 92.3 FM this morning, Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, said he’d like to see the Ducey address educators’ five key demands from last year’s #RedForEd movement: a 20 percent increase in teacher salaries and the restoration of per-pupil funding for public schools to 2008 levels, competitve pay for all education support professionals, a salary plan that provides an annual raise, and a halt to tax cuts until Arizona’s per-pupil funding reaches the national average.

Children’s Action Alliance’s President and CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark called on Gov. Ducey and state legislators to develop a bipartisan plan for sustained revenue sources to provide long-term public education funding.

If advocates don’t see progress on a bipartisan education funding plan, Naimark said they will collect signatures to get the Invest in Ed proposition back on the ballot, according to a KTAR News 92.3 FM story. An Arizona Supreme Court ruling in late August 2018 took the Invest in Education Act off the November ballot.

The Invest in Ed proposition would have raised the income tax rate for single taxpayers who earn more than $250,000 in taxable income and married persons who earn more than $500,000 from 4.54 percent to 8 percent. It also would have increased the tax rate to 9 percent for individuals who earn more than $500,000 in taxable income and couples who earn more than $1 million.

“A majority of the court finds that the proposition’s description of the change in tax rate combined with the omission of any discussion of changes in indexing for inflation collectively creates a significant danger of confusion or unfairness” and finds the ballot language is inadequate by law, according to an order signed by Chief Justice Scott Bales.

Ducey has also said that getting the school safety plan crafted last year with input from groups from around the state passed by the Arizona Legislators is another priority, according to an Arizona Republic article. The plan calls for more counselors and police officers in schools, a safety tip line and a proposed restraining order that would restrict access to firearms for volatile individuals.

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