Governor Doug Ducey’s State of the State Address

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We’ll have analysis of Governor Doug Ducey’s State of the State address and the upcoming legislative session.

Jose Cardenas: Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. Governor Doug Ducey delivers his state of the state address. We'll have analysis of his speech. Plus learn about a new program providing grief support to Spanish-speaking children and families. All this coming up next on "Horizonte."

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: Thank you for joining us. This week governor Doug Ducey delivered his state of the state address in front of lawmakers at the state capitol. The governor addressed education reform, children in foster care, and education. We'll talk about his speech in a moment, but, first, here is some of what Governor Ducey had to say in his state of the state address.

Doug Ducey: I also want to give a special welcome to the newest member of the state highest court, Justice Clint Bullock. Now, I understand that it is 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. I also encourage all of our cities and towns to put the brakes on ill-advised plans to create a patchwork of different wage and employment laws. If these political sub divisions don't stop, they will drive our economy off a cliff. 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. Last year, faced with one of the most contentious legal issues in Arizona history, leaders in education and this 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 trend line on education funding. The stakes are high. I want all our university presidents to know we value your work. And I intend to be a partner in strengthening Arizona higher education.

Eric Meyer: There wasn't enough detail in what he spoke about today to say, but I can tell you that he did say public education was a priority. I hope he puts some dollars behind that in his budget. He did say the universities were doing great but he didn't talk about restoring the massive cuts and making college tuition affordable for average middle class Arizonans. And on DCF, I would say that department is in crisis and needs direct intervention, and he didn't sigh anything -- say anything about DCF other than --

Jose Cardenas: Joining me to talk about the speech is Joshua Zaragoza, political director for competitive Arizona. Joshua was also the former chief of staff for Phoenix city councilwoman Laura pastor. And Lea Marquez-Peterson, president and CEO of the Tucson Hispanic chamber of commerce. Thank you both for joining us this evening.

Josh Zaragoza: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: I should mention in addition to your specific jobs that you both have, Josh, you have been active in Democratic politics. And Lea, you have been active in Republican politics. Let's just start off with your overall impression of the governor's state of the state speech and we will dig into some of the details later.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: Certainly. I had the opportunity of hearing Governor Ducey speak in Phoenix and then again the next day in Tucson. Very impressed with what he put out there in terms of his priorities for the state. I mean, I'm in an organization; we represent businesses, primarily small businesses, more than 1,800 here in the state of Arizona. His talk of lowering taxes, looking at the unnecessary regulation on business, shared economy, a lot of that was very well received by our members of our chamber. Also excited to hear the different things that he spoke about related to education. We're big supporters of Proposition 123, and certainly higher education and our community colleges. Looking forward to getting more details on that.

Jose Cardenas: Josh, were you as excited as Lea was?

Josh Zaragoza: I think Governor Ducey has always demonstrated that he is an astute politician and at times an effective speaker; he was immensely light in particular with DCS and the 19,000 children that are without homes, in harm's way right now, and in addition to that --

Jose Cardenas: That was the same comment that Eric Meyer, minority leader mentioned.

Josh Zaragoza: Exactly. I did echo the comments of minority leader Meyer, but what was encouraging by Governor Ducey's speech and both minority leader Meyer's comments is that they're both talking about the same issues and the same priorities, which is important, because if we are to, you know, achieve the results we want to do and make our economy vibrant and add more jobs and make our school system more robust, at least we're on the same page. The debate is around how we achieve those solutions.

Jose Cardenas: We started that segment with clips from the state of the state speech, very first one being his introduction of the newest appointees, his first appointee to the Arizona Supreme Court, who comes from the Goldwater institute. The commentary on that has been that this shows that the governor is perhaps more ideologically inclined than some thought. This appointment maybe reflects something deeper than that, your thoughts, Lea.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: I don't know Mr. Bullock well, but I have read about him. Stands for individual liberties. Coauthored a book with Jeb Bush on immigration. I find him very interesting. Time will tell when he votes and we see his own record of opinion. I'm not sure. I think time will tell.

Jose Cardenas: Josh, any concerns about that appointment?

Josh Zaragoza: Nor do I know him well or have met Mr. Bullock, but I found it odd that he was being promoted to the Republicans as an Independent, when, in fact, he has been involved in Republican politics for years and part of the establishment as Lea mentioned. Even wrote a book with former governor Jeb Bush. I mean, at the end of the day, it was a political appointment. But on that same level, any executive governor or president, those appointments always seem to be political. And, you know, I think I do have to echo Lea's comment that we have to wait and see because, I mean, there is many on the left and on the Democratic side of the aisle that would like Michael Herrod to be removed as a judge, Kathy's husband, his history, voting record, interpreting the law, he has actually been quite fair. I think sometimes people just take sides to take sides. But I think at the end of the day it was a political appointment.

Jose Cardenas: What about the governor's emphasis on cutting taxes? It is clear there is not going to be any tax increase, but he has made a number of commitments to higher education -- well, not specifically to higher education, but to K-12 and some others that is going to cost some money and at the same time he says he is going to cut taxes not only this year, but in the future. Any concerns about that?

Josh Zaragoza: Not concerns. I mean, that is what Governor Ducey ran on. So, no surprises there. People elected him overwhelmingly. At the same time, I'm afraid these cutting taxes are going to be for major corporations, for those that are profiting already that don't need their taxes cut and it is going to be on the backs of our school children and our youth and our education budget, DCS, and 19,000 children, 19,000 cases that haven't been investigated. That is what scares me when these tax cuts when he talks about those, is that it is going to be on the backs of our school children and our education system. We also have an issue with that because we have the perception of having a bad education system and in turn that hurts our way of recruiting new businesses, attracting and retaining top talent. It is all connected.

Jose Cardenas: You have indicated that your membership has a different view, commitment to cut taxes, that is a positive and will help recruit businesses. Any other thoughts on that specific issue?

Lea Marquez-Peterson: I mean, you've seen Governor Ducey with his rebranding campaign for Arizona. He is very focused on how to make Arizona attractive for a place to work, live, play, and so on. I'm honored to coach with Michael Bidwell the president of the Arizona cardinals, at that group, how do we do outreach to CEOs in other states and bring them to Arizona. Lower taxes, making Arizona an attractive place to do business that will lead to jobs which will ultimately lead to impacts in the overall economy and fund things we need in Arizona. He came into the state in a very tough time financially. And I know that the last budget cycle was particularly tough. We had to make tough decisions and I think on Friday, his budget comes out again and we will see a lot of where his priorities line up and how he is looking to make Arizona more attractive in the future.

Jose Cardenas: Josh I know from a discussion off camera we had, something missing from the governor's rebranding effort, key element that he didn't mention.

Josh Zaragoza: I commend him on highlighting the executive order of sharing economy that said he did not talk about tourism, our number one export, at $21 billion a year. If we want to continue that trend, and if we want to continue as well as compete with other states in attracting, you know, innovative companies like Uber, then we are going to have to be more inclusive. We are going to have to change our perception. Because we have a bad perception. And that is going to require rebranding efforts such as Lea is talking about. Any rebranding effort is going to be met with skepticism that does not include significant policy. And what he could do is he could talk about updating the nondiscrimination laws in our state to include sexual orientation and gender identity and that would send a message across the country that we are now an inclusive and welcoming state.

Jose Cardenas: Any prospect that he would do that?

Josh Zaragoza: As of right now, it is not my inclination that there would be a bill this session that he would sign in favor of that. I'm confident that this governor does not want to sign any controversial bills, in the past, such as SP 1070, anything that would hurt our image any further.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: I was going to mention related to tourism, the governor did speak about the importance of Mexico, one of the greatest partners to Arizona and certainly we're very aware, they spend over a billion a year, Mexican consumers, in just my county, Pima County, and that is top of mind for the governor, Arizona-Mexico commission.

Jose Cardenas: What about his proposal for taking care of K-12 education? It has gotten the opposition of the state treasurer. And Democrats, I think, Josh, they're going to end up supporting it but they have misgivings about whether this is a real long-term solution.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: Sure, you know, the lawsuit, when the governor spoke earlier this last year, you know, he spoke about the fact, okay, it is now time to settle this lawsuit. What we see with Prop 123 is really that settlement. I think there is no a plan B at this point. We need to have Prop 123 passed in May. You see educators; you see bipartisan support of Proposition 123 because it is providing $3.5 billion for K-12 education. And, again, it is really the settlement from the lawsuit that was pending, and thankfully the governor got involved in that and others to negotiate something that would bring dollars immediately to the K-12 system.

Jose Cardenas: There has been a lot of discussion about what some people took to be a pretty aggressive position with respect to local government, municipalities and what the governor said was this patchwork of regulation that is harmful to business attraction specifically perhaps minimum wage provisions at the local level. Where are the Dems on that?

Josh Zaragoza: I know that the Dems would be against it. I haven't spoken to them personally about it. I know just talked about a couple of days ago, but I think what we -- I think the governor knows that in red states across the country, a lot of progressive policies need advance at the municipal level. As we have seen in Phoenix, Tucson, and I think this -- you know, this perhaps scares them a little bit. He is putting all of his power into perhaps stopping any, you know, minimum wage increases or paid sick leave. It goes against the whole small government philosophy he has and the efficiencies. So, that's -- that -- that worries me how -- one point he wants small government, but at the same time he wants to use big government and everything local control --

Jose Cardenas: One of his targets might well be your home city, Tucson.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: Right. I think the governor made a bold statement in his state of the state address, because in Tucson, they are having discussions around mandating paid sick leave. What's interesting, of our some 1,800 members, 1,300 in southern Arizona, a lot of them provide paid sick leave. What the opposition I'm hearing is having additional regulation, having that mandate come from the mayor and city council. What kind of image that provides for Arizona. The governor mentioned in his speech, patchwork quilt, different communities have different rules, different potentially minimum wages, that doesn't make Arizona look attractive to recruiting businesses to our state.

Jose Cardenas: A big point of emphasis for the governor and you mentioned it yourself in your opening comments, was the sharing economy, this notion of a sharing economy, Uber and other kinds of actions like that. How significant is that in the overall scheme of things? I know Bob wrote in one of his columns said that may be good for some people but it is not really a big driving factor in the economy.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: I think it was cutting edge and interesting to hear the governor form a council focused on the shared economy. I was lucky enough to attend a press conference at the University of Arizona, Uber was there and talking about partnering with the U of A and doing further research. I think this is definitely a wave of the future. To have Arizona have a council put together folks that are interested in that is a great thing.

Jose Cardenas: Wrap up on this and I want to get a quick discussion on the comparison between the governor's speech and President Obama's. But any major disappointments, Josh, with the governor's speech?

Josh Zaragoza: Well, I thought it was unfortunate, like I mentioned earlier, that he was not specific about DCS or restoring perhaps using the rainy day fund or surplus to add more dollars to education, to prerecession levels. And finally not talking about the rebrand effort that Lea was discussing earlier, and working with Arizona Commerce Authority and Tucson Hispanic Chamber, but also backing that up with significant policy that would allow us to promote Arizona as a welcome and inclusive state.

Jose Cardenas: I gather from your comments that there is really nothing you were disappointed with, but is there something that you wish the governor had mentioned or discussed in greater detail?

Lea Marquez-Peterson: I think specific to the work we do in the chamber, a lot of our work with Mexico, you know, that -- it will be interesting to see where that goes and where it develops. He also talked about a renewed emphasis marketing and promotion for Arizona commerce authority. Friday when the budget comes out I think we will see where the priorities line up and there will be a lot of further conversations on how does this relate to K-12 and higher education? What will the community colleges have related to his comments around career and technical education? So, I think there are still a lot of details to come from that. And I know that his staff and other leaders throughout the state are working on that.

Jose Cardenas: We had the governor's state of the state address Monday afternoon, and then President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Thoughts, not necessarily comparisons, although you're welcome to make them if you want, on the two.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: I think they were very different types of speeches. Our governor is focused obviously on kind of the financial turn-around of the state of Arizona and vision for where we're going. And in President Obama's case, I thought that he was speaking about accomplishments that he had had and some justification for direction that he had done with the country, but it is his final State of the Union and it certainly set that tone. So, I didn't really see a true comparison.

Jose Cardenas: Now, it may be one comparison in this sense, some people are talking about Governor Ducey as perhaps presidential timber in upcoming years. Do you think he is headed in that direction?

Lea Marquez-Peterson: I certainly think he's got the skills to do that, but I have no idea if that is something that is on his radar.

Jose Cardenas: Josh. State of the state vs state of the union?

Josh Zaragoza: Other than them both bringing up prescription drug abuse as a key issue, other than that, no. Like Lea mentioned, Obama seemed very confident, not that Ducey didn't, but wanted to discuss -- wanted to provide a sense of hope again like he did in 2007 when he is running, that while there is a lot of work to be done, stagnant wages and income inequality, we're a lot better off than we were seven years ago. Whereas Governor Ducey is really emphasizing that we need to be moving full speed and making sure that Arizona's economy is fully recovered. So -- but the major contrast I noticed was that unlike Washington, in full grid lock, I think both Republicans and Democrats have an opportunity this session to really work together in trying to achieve major budget issues and bring, you know, bring major dollars to our education system and DCS and really create a prosperous path for Arizona.

Jose Cardenas: We will have a better sense of that next week when the governor's budget comes out. Thank you both.

Lea Marquez-Peterson: Thank you.

Josh Zaragoza: Thank you.

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