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Here are the highlights of Gov. Ducey’s 2020 State of the State address

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, foreground, gestures during his State of the State address as he talks about Arizona's economy, new jobs, prison reform, and education as Senate president Karen Fann, R-Prescott, right, and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, left, listen in on the opening day of the legislative session at the Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ushered in a new legislative session on Monday with his annual State of the State address.

In the approximately hourlong speech, the Republican governor outlined accomplishments from his tenure and laid out his priorities for the upcoming session.

Here are the highlights of Ducey’s speech at the state Capitol:

Economy

“Here, we’re not just open for business — we’re open for opportunity — for everyone. As a result, we’re now the number one inbound state in America.

Our economy is roaring: 350,000 new jobs since 2015. It’s reflected in our bursting general fund and growing revenues.

But for those of you who don’t know me that well yet — spoiler alert: We’re not going on a spending spree.

But old habits die hard for the spending lobby. There’s a chorus of special interests and lobbyists scheming, plotting and clamoring for new and higher taxes. … So let me reiterate what I’ve said in five prior state of the state speeches, and two inaugural addresses — because apparently it bears repeating — no new taxes, not this session, not next session, not here in this chamber, not at the ballot box, not on my watch.”

Veterans

“Our vets have already earned their benefits. Put their lives on the line. The government shouldn’t be taxing their service to country, it should be honoring their service to country. Our budget does this, by eliminating all state income taxes on our veterans’ military pensions once and for all.

… To all our veterans, everywhere, from California to New York state, Arizona wants you. All of you. You’ve put our country first; now with this budget, Arizona will put you first. Eliminating taxes for our veterans is one way, but not the only way, we can honor our heroes. We’re connecting veterans to jobs. And we’re working toward the opening of two new veterans’ homes.

The battlefield isn’t the only place where our service members’ lives are at risk. Once they come home, they face new challenges, with suicide rates three times higher among Arizona veterans.

Our Department of Veterans Services, under the direction of Col. Wanda Wright, is a national leader in addressing veteran suicide.

Through the BeConnected program, veterans are connecting with one another for support and behavioral health services. But more needs to be done, for all Arizonans struggling with this growing crisis.”

Regulation

“I’ve called on you to get rid of old laws. Today I’m leading by example. Moments ago, I rescinded 23 old executive orders, resulting in the elimination of 18 boards and commissions we just don’t need. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go through the list — you won’t miss them.

We’ve been on a blitz to wipe out needless regulations: 2,289, gone. That’s the equivalent of a $134 million tax cut without impacting the general fund one penny. But we’re not done yet.

I’ve issued a new executive order, with a new reform: If the government ever deems a new regulation absolutely necessary, it must first identify three others to eliminate. The result: New regulations will naturally mean less regulations.”

Education

“Through the Arizona Teachers Academy we made a commitment to our aspiring teachers — you stay and teach in Arizona, and we’ll cover your college tuition. The effort is paying off. Enrollment in the Teachers Academy has skyrocketed, with 2,170 students now participating.

… In total, we’ve pumped $4.5 billion in new investments into Arizona schools. With our latest budget, that figure will rise to $6.6 billion. And we’ve done all of this without raising taxes.

In addition, an even larger investment in school counselors, cops on campus, and school safety. A stronger focus on (career and technical education) and the trades. More money for the Arizona Teachers Academy and Teach for America. And a full, complete and accelerated restoration of flexible funding — two years ahead of schedule.

… (W)e’ve worked hard to create more choice and opportunities for kids and their parents. Open enrollment. Public charter schools. Education savings accounts. And in Arizona, much of this work has been bipartisan.”

Public safety

“There’s no doubt about it, public safety is the most important thing we do. In correctional facilities across the state, we’ve led to provide second chances to those serving their time, setting up job training workshops and partnering with employers.

…We know these programs work. This year, we are doubling down on this successful model, to give more individuals their opportunity at a better choice and a better life.

… So, going forward, the department will take on a new moniker. One that more clearly reflects the agency’s mission: the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry.

… There’s another marker we are going to meet this year. We’re shutting down a state prison. It will enhance safety at our remaining facilities and save taxpayers $274 million over the next three years.

And for the rest of our facilities, let’s make sure they’re staffed and secure for our correctional officers and inmates alike. That’s why my budget will fix the locks and provide additional pay raises for our correctional officers — on top of last year’s raises. All in the name of public safety.”

Editor’s note: Excerpts are from a transcript of the speech provided by the governor’s office.

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