ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Gov. Ducey promises busy 2022 with focus on education, border in State of State address

Jan 10, 2022, 2:58 PM | Updated: 10:00 pm
(KTAR News Photo/Jeremy Schnell)...
(KTAR News Photo/Jeremy Schnell)
(KTAR News Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey promised a busy 2022 and focused on improvements in education and border security during his eighth and final State of the State address on Monday.

Ducey, a Republican, spoke at the House of Representatives to kick off his final legislative session as governor and ahead of unveiling the 2022 budget on Friday.

“For those who think it’s going to be a quiet year on the Ninth Floor, you haven’t been paying attention,” Ducey said during his speech. “And as I stand here today, the job isn’t done. The goodbyes will come later, much later.

“I intend to make the most of every moment and work hard all along the way for my employers, the citizens of this state.”

Ducey spoke heavily on the state of education in Arizona, singling out the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and reiterating schools would remain open for in-person learning.

He vowed to open free summer camps in June aimed at catching up students in math, reading and American civics.

The governor also said critical race theory wouldn’t be taught in schools, six months after he signed a bill banning state or local governments from requiring training in the area.

In another request, Ducey said he wanted to expand school choice, whether that be through more open enrollment, new transportation models or more charter schools.

“Let’s think big and find more ways to get kids into the school of their parents’ choice,” Ducey said. “Send me the bills and I’ll sign them.”

On border security, Ducey laid out a five-point plan to limit what he called a public safety and humanitarian crisis.

He asked for more resources, stricter criminal penalties and stronger coordination with federal leaders.

The Republican also promised to build a wall where possible at the southern border.

“Our border is a patchwork of federal, state, tribal and private lands,” Ducey said. “Where Arizona can add physical barriers to the border, we will.”

Ducey argued Democratic U.S. Sens. from Arizona Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema shouldn’t vote yes on legislation until President Joe Biden builds a wall, adds virtual surveillance and increases resources for affected border communities.

Action at the border from Biden and the federal government has been a hot-button topic for Ducey in recent months as migrations have soared in Yuma and at other ports of entry.

“In Arizona, we will secure our border. We will protect public safety. We will not back down. We will fight this fight until Washington D.C. finally acts,” Ducey said.

Ducey also spoke at length on water conservation, lowering taxes, job creation and infrastructure needs.

Prior to the address, Arizona Democrats released their legislative priorities for the 2022 session.

The minority party in both chambers of the Legislature unveiled a seven-point “Blueprint For a Better Arizona” that, heading into an election year, covers hot-button issues such as education, election integrity and reproductive rights.

The eight-page document also presents Democrats’ ambitions for pandemic recovery, community health, criminal justice and water/climate concerns.

Ducey promised to find ways to work across the aisle in his final legislative session as governor.

“No doubt, there will be challenges. In fact, some have said we can’t get much done this year,” Ducey said. “Divided chambers. An election. Why bother? I disagree. Let’s aim high and think big.

“We’re smarter today, and as I look around this chamber, I see the wisdom of our veteran lawmakers, side-by-side with the energy and fresh perspective of the newcomers, and that’s a combo that is sure to produce results.”

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Arizona Gov. Ducey promises busy 2022 with focus on education, border in State of State address