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Gov. Doug Ducey boasts Arizona is ‘on the rise’ in State of the State address

(Michael Schennum/The Arizona Republic via AP)

PHOENIX — Arizona is “on the rise.”

That was state Gov. Doug Ducey’s major focal point during his State of the State address in Phoenix on Monday, when he stood up in front of an audience of hundreds statewide and claimed he would transform the state from one with a billion-dollar deficit to one that prioritizes small businesses and pumps funding into education.

The following are quotes taken from the transcript of Ducey’s second State of the State address, broken down into distinct categories:

Transform Arizona into a thriving state

“We’ve added more than 56,000 new jobs, and 100,000 new citizens – and Forbes says we are the best state in the country for future job growth.

“We’ve unleashed innovation. Our free enterprise system is flowing. And we enter 2016, united in an effort to deliver our students and teachers billions in new dollars.

“I’m proud to stand here today, and say: The state of the state isn’t just strong – it is on the rise.”

Ducey’s proposed budget will prioritize education

“On Friday, I will release my budget, and the big spenders and special interests aren’t going to like it.

“It prioritizes vital commitments like education, child safety and public safety. It eliminates waste. It’s balanced. And most importantly, it does not raise taxes.

“Now, I understand that it’s unusual for elected leaders to keep their promises, but let me assure you: I intend to keep mine. Together, we will lower taxes this year. Next year. And the year after. And at the same time… we will invest in education this year, next year and the year after.”

Allow businesses to grow and thrive in Arizona by reducing regulations

“In the governor’s office, we’ve identified hundreds of buried regulations that state agencies have imposed on Arizonans through the backdoor, hurting businesses large and small. Stifling job creation and progress.

“Unfortunately, the process to get rid of these unnecessary regulations isn’t nearly as easy as the process to create them.

“Send me legislation to allow agencies to wipe them out, easier and faster. And I’ll sign it.”

Promote Arizona’s participation in the ‘sharing economy’

“More than 40 million passengers enter our state through Sky Harbor International Airport every year. But you can’t order an Uber or Lyft because unelected bureaucrats at city hall are protecting special interests.

“Sky Harbor may be a city airport, but it’s an Arizona vital resource used by citizens all over the state, and our economy is dependent on its success. I call on Phoenix city government to lift these unnecessary regulations immediately.

“Moments ago, I signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Council on the Sharing Economy. Its mission: Stop shackling innovation, and instead – put the cuffs on out-of-touch regulators.

“I want startups in the Sharing Economy to know: California may not want you, but Arizona does.”

Arizona public schools to be expanded with financial assistance

“Last year, faced with one of the most contentious legal issues in Arizona history, leaders in education and the Legislature stepped up.

“The result: a monumental, bipartisan, $3.5 billion solution, that will go to the voters in 127 days. This is a once in a generation opportunity to change the trendline on education funding. The stakes are high.

“In the years ahead, Arizona will be among the states investing the most new dollars in public education – all without raising taxes. This is a first step – a big first step – but not our only step to improve public education in Arizona.

“We know spending is not the measure of success. And it shouldn’t just be about the billions of dollars we are putting into public education; it must be about what our kids are getting out of their education. Until the thousands of kids on public school wait lists have access to our finest teachers and principals, our job isn’t done.

“So here’s the plan: We are going to make it easier and more affordable for our best public schools to expand.

“For months, my office has worked with the top credit rating agencies in the country to develop a structure that lets our excellent public schools finance their expansion at lower cost.

“This means they can spend more dollars in the classroom, and less paying interest to a bank on Wall Street.

“By utilizing dollars you allocated last year for the creation of the Arizona Public School Achievement District, combined with additional dollars that won’t impact the general fund, we can and will make this happen.”

Schools who produce more college-prep students to receive more funding

“All of us should be alarmed to hear that more than half of our high school graduates can’t get into our own state universities. So, under our plan, schools that produce students who successfully complete APlevel, college-prep courses will be rewarded with more dollars.

“Schools in low-income areas – where educators and students face added challenges – will receive an even greater boost for helping kids beat the odds.

“But I know not every child plans to go to college – their K-12 experience also needs to prepare them for life. Which is why I’m targeting high-need employment sectors with a new focus on career and technical education. There is bipartisan support for this – so let’s get it done.”

Incentives to be offered for Arizona foster and adoptive families

“As a parent and as governor, there’s one number that keeps me up at night: 18,927. That’s how many Arizona children, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in the foster care system.

“We have to stand up for these kids. And that means making sure that no matter the failings of their parents, they and their caregivers have the resources they need. And grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles, shouldn’t face roadblocks to care for children in their own extended families. But under current policy, they do.

“I say, if we want to see more foster and adoptive families … let’s give them an incentive…a ‘fast pass’ to the front of the line of our best public schools. This will ensure vulnerable children an opportunity at a great education – and bring more good people to take on the noble cause of fostering a child.”

State social media accounts to put spotlight on ‘deadbeat dads’

“For fathers out there who aren’t meeting their obligations, we also have a plan. I’m talking to deadbeat dads. For too long, you’ve been able to remain anonymous – able to skirt your financial and legal responsibilities with no shame — not anymore.

“Some people have referred to me as the ‘Hashtag Governor.’ Well here’s a new one for all the deadbeat dads out there: Effective immediately, the state is going to begin posting the photos, names and money owed by these losers to social media, with the hashtag ‘deadbeat.’

“It’s simple. If you’re old enough to father a child, then you’re old enough to accept financial responsibility for that child. If you don’t want your embarrassing – unlawful – and irresponsible behavior going viral: Man up, and pay up.”

Executive order signed to investigate more than 2,300 backlogged rape kits

“Right now, in just Maricopa County alone, there is a backlog of 2,300 rape kits that sit in storage, uninvestigated. All across our state, women await justice, and predators evade the law looking for their next victim.

“Today, I signed an Executive Order establishing a special law enforcement team to solve this injustice. My budget will allocate dollars to start the process of clearing these backlogs. I want a plan, to be followed by legislation, that requires every rape kit to be investigated.

“On my watch, the state of Arizona will do whatever it takes to lock these criminals away.”

State officials to crack down on war on drugs

“Whether it’s unemployment, homelessness, crime, child neglect, or the prison population – all these issues trace back to a common theme: Drug abuse and addiction.

“For those suffering from addiction, it’s a different story – and law enforcement can only go so far: 75 percent of heroin addicts started out using prescription drugs.

“I’m bringing together a team of leading substance abuse experts, recovering addicts, and providers to find the best treatments and reduce barriers to care.”

Arizona is ‘on the rise’

“Despite all these challenges, Arizona has a lot to be proud of.

“Members of the Legislature, our state is on the rise – and it’s because of our people. They’re giving their all to make this state the best place in America – and they expect us to do the same. I’m honored to continue working with you toward that goal.

“We’ve demonstrated government can work. Positive things can happen at this Capitol. We can think big, and aim high. So why stop now.”

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