Governors understandably like to keep their state of the state speeches under tight wraps so that their pronouncements land with the desired weight when the governor addresses the full legislature – and the state – from the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives.
We certainly learned some things about Gov. Doug Ducey’s agenda for 2020 in our wide-ranging state of the state preview interview.
But there were several occasions where Ducey declined to answer questions, or shied away from providing specifics. Frequently, he turned to a phrase that is commonplace in these pre-session interviews: “Stay tuned!”
Based on his evasions, here are some topics we expect will be discussed in Ducey’s state of the state speech Monday and expanded on when his budget proposal is released at the end of the week.
K-12 education spending
Q: How much new funding do you intend to put towards K-12 education?
A: Stay tuned. Stay tuned.
Q: There’s been discussion about a potential ballot measure to increase funding for K-12 education either through income taxes or sales taxes. They’re talking, I think, somewhere in that six hundred to eight hundred million dollar range. Is the funding increasing to be to that level or is it going to be –
A: Well, we’ve put four point five billion since I came into office – and wait ‘til you see what we have on budget release.
Child sex abuse prevention
Q: Which plans or recommendations from the child sex abuse task force do you anticipate pushing for when it comes to the state’s criminal statutes around sexual abuse for sex trafficking?
A: This is something where we are going to address in the state of the state.
Empowerment Scholarship Accounts
Q: The Department of Education’s response to criticism about how it has handled ESAs has been that they’re not getting the adequate funding in order to properly administer and oversee the program. Will you push for letting them receive more?
A: We have some issues in the ESA program that need to be addressed and we intend to address them, both through policy and the budget.
Q: What are some other changes that you see needed with ESAs?
Q: Red flag laws and STOP orders – that has been a priority of your office for the past couple years. Is that going to continue to be an issue this year?
A: School safety, young people, mental health, suicide rates, all of these things are going to fall under our umbrella of public health, and in our education budget, and we’ll have more specifics in the state of the state and the budget release.
Ducey will give his state of the state speech at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13. It will be live-streamed by the Legislature.