PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.
Gov. Doug Ducey made history Monday: He’s the first Arizona governor to enter an eighth year in office – two full terms – in 35 years.
But Ducey declared this wasn’t a farewell speech.
“Make no mistake,” he said. “We will keep Arizona, Arizona.”
With COVID-19 cases soaring, the governor delivered his one-hour speech in person to a packed House chamber. Virtually all Republicans in the chamber were unmasked.
Last year, amid another COVID surge, the governor delivered his speech virtually.
Here's what's at the top of the governor’s to-do list for his final year in office:
Ducey is taking on the existential threat of Arizona’s dwindling water supply. He wants to spend a billion dollars to save water and find new sources. That would include a proposed water desalination plant in Mexico.
“Our goal: Secure Arizona’s water future for the next 100 years,” the governor said.
Ducey got six standing ovations for his attacks on public schools.
The governor called on the Legislature to create a summer school program that would help children get caught up on the learning that’s been lost during the pandemic.
- He wants to require all schools to put their curriculum and academic materials online. The material should be “available to search and review by every parent, grandparent and interested citizen.”
- A governor who has relentlessly pushed for school choice opens his final year in office to “expand school choice any way we can."
Ducey wants to protect vulnerable children by giving family members more resources to be foster parents.
Ducey has a long list of priorities for beefing up border security.
- Arizona should team up with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to form the “American Governor’s Border Strike Force” to patrol the border. Abbott has deployed National Guard troops. Ducey has done the same, but largely in support roles.
- The governor referred to his trip to the border in Yuma last month, when migrants walked through a gap in the border fence while Ducey was leading a news conference. “Where Arizona can add physical barriers to the border, we will,” he said.
The governor didn’t announce any new initiatives to deal with the COVID surge. Ducey mentioned the word “vaccine” once in a 4,700-word speech.
He blamed Washington for pandemic “mismanagement.” Arizona has the second-highest COVID death rate in the country.
Ducey’s chief of staff suggested to reporters that COVID was an issue that didn’t matter to Arizonans.
The governor also didn’t touch on a looming financial cliff for Arizona’s schools.
Budgets could be slashed by $1.2 billion statewide because of a spending cap that both parties have tried to remove in the past, without success.
If a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate doesn’t lift the cap, the budget cuts will hit on April 1. Lawmakers have warned of layoffs and possible school closings.
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.