Ducey to expand school funding and tax breaks

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jan 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-11 21:51:20-05

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey promised more education spending and tax cuts during his annual State of the State address.

FULL TEXT: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's State of the State Address

"The state of our state isn’t just strong – it is on the rise," Ducey said. Facing a $1 billion shortfall as the governor took office last year, Arizona now has a budget surplus and a better credit rating. He said special interests and big spenders won't like his budget this year, which he will announce Friday.

"Together, we will lower taxes this year," Ducey said. "At the same time, we will invest in education this year, next year and the year after."

“Tax cuts, like the Angel Investment Tax cut or the Research and Development Tax Credit, renewing those that we know create jobs for our economy - those may be good, but just across-the-board tax cuts when our schools are desperate and our universities tuition has become unaffordable, I don’t think we will be supporting those,” House Minority Leader Eric Meyer said.

Ducey says he wants to attract more businesses from California, but attracting new companies also involves improving the state's education system.

He addressed the state's education finding lawsuit, including a public vote in May to approve additional funding.

"I am voting 'yes' on Prop 123; if you are with me raise your hand," Ducey said. Supporters' hands shot up across the House chamber, followed by a standing ovation.

Ducey also announced proposals for additional funding for Advanced Placement classes in low-income school districts and low-interest loans for schools wanting to improve facilities.

"It can't be the last thing we do for our schools, but it's a start," Meyer said.

Ducey outlined a pilot program to try to reduce prison population. He wants to launch a community corrections program in Maricopa County. Instead of sending people with technical parole violations back to prison, they would go into a community corrections center. The program would provide more intense supervision, work-release portions, counseling and drug treatment. Pima County already has a similar system for parolees.

"It’s time we bring this to the state’s largest county, where the most people are transitioning back to life in our community," Ducey said. "Let’s give them a second chance so they stay clean and never end up back in prison."

"Frankly, I think the corrections system in this state is starting to become the biggest element of big government that we have,” Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, said.

Arizona will use a Twitter campaign to prompt deadbeat dads to pay their child support. 

"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,'" Ducey said.