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Exclusive: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey looks back at first year in office

State treasurer and former CEO Doug Ducey speaks to supporters as he claims victory on winning the Republican primary for Arizona governor Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in Phoenix. Ducey defeated the other Republican candidates and will face Democrat Fred DuVal, who was unopposed in the primary, in November. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Things actually can get done in government. That was Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s biggest surprise after being sworn into office one year ago.

“We were able to balance the budget (and) pass significant legislation,” Ducey said of the state’s accomplishments in the first year of his term.

Almost immediately after Ducey was inaugurated, it became clear education funding was at the top of the governor’s to-do list. In June, he announced Proposition 123, which would increase K-12 education funding without raising taxes.

“By using the state land trust in a way that it has never been used before to a really positive solution for all the kids and parents and teachers across the state,” he said.

In the world of crime, Ducey said nothing on the campaign trail could have prepared him for the Interstate 10 freeway shooter crisis.

“You really feel the full weight and responsibility of being the governor,” he said.

The first-term governor said he does not regret tweeting “We got him” after the initial arrest of a suspect before state troopers were ready to tell the public.

Switching to global affairs, Ducey joined other Republican governors earlier this year by calling for a temporary freeze of all Syrian refugees entering both his state and the nation.

“My request has been for a pause and it has been in the spirit of protecting public safety for our citizens in a very difficult time,” he said.

When terrorists struck San Bernardino, California, Arizona’s governor said he felt attacked by California Gov. Jerry Brown who, after the incident, criticized Arizona’s gun laws.

“Arizona had nothing to do with it,” he said. “(Brown) was in Paris at a climate change conference and he decided to take a swing at our state and I have no idea why.”

Despite Brown’s criticism, Ducey said his relationships with governors in other Western states are positive.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the governor said his main goal is passing Proposition 123 but admitted the biggest hurdle will be educating voters.

“We need to do a good job communicating to people that this is a good idea and that these dollars will be properly spent,” he said.

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