Governor Ducey elaborates on education funding, taxes and opioid crisis
Jan. 10, 2018
Governor Doug Ducey expands on points made Monday’s State of the State Address, including funding education, not raising taxes and correcting the opioid crisis.
Ducey was criticized for lack of specificity when it came to improving the education system in the state. Of the 17 pages, his speech only included two pages on education which the governor calls the climax of his address. In an attempt to “challenge this mantra of no specifics,” Ducey cited the $1.7 billion additional state money allocated to education over the last three years, the ten percent raise in per-student spending since 2015 and the nine percent raise in teacher salary since 2015.
The nicknamed “education governor” stands by his promise that the state can fund schools without raising taxes. The focus on education this year will be to restore the cuts that took place during the recession, Ducey says. The funds are “permanent and flexible,” which means they can be used for capital or salaries, and will be distributed to superintendents who will then decide how to spend the dollars.
Although he didn’t mention it in his address, Ducey says he supports the continuation of Prop 201, a measure passed in 200o that raised the state sales tax in order to place more revenue into public education. According to Ducey, the statute provides a “generational opportunity to improve K-through-12 education, to have better policy and to bring more dollars to our teachers and our students.”
“We don’t need to raise taxes.”
The governor credits the state’s current tax environment as one of the main reasons dozens of businesses are attracted to Arizona, which in turn bring both jobs to the state and money to the local economy. According to Ducey, it isn’t necessary to increase taxes when the tax environment is what draws people to the state.
Ducey also believes raising taxes will hurt education funding, not help it. “Growth in the economy is paying for these dollars that are going to K-through-12 education,” says Ducey.
Ducey agrees that the school system must be improved, but he says the current state of the system won’t dissuade businesspersons from moving their families to Arizona, whereas raising taxes could.
Stopping the opioid crisis
Last year saw 800 Arizonans die due to opioids, a problem the governor says needs to be dealt with immediatly. The governor plans to hold a special session on how to effectively attack the problem of opioids in Arizona. But the governor made clear that his goal is not for lawmakers to tell doctors how to care for their patients.
“We’re talking about bad actors who are hooking people on this drug and making a profit from it,” Ducey says.