Gov. Doug Ducey
January 19, 2019
It’s often said those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
Many of us remember well the Great Recession and extreme hardships Arizona went through to cope with the economic downturn and recover from it. The road has been tough, but we walked it – together. Today, our budget is balanced. Our economy is booming. And Arizona is back on its feet.
But today’s good news shouldn’t overshadow the lessons of the past.
It wasn’t that long ago that Arizona racked up a massive and unsustainable tab. And when the economy tanked, it was painful, for real people. We can’t let this happen again.
On Friday, I released a balanced budget for the coming year. It provides targeted funding in areas where we can make a real difference, while ensuring we are preparing our state for whatever comes next.
We must undo the recession's mistakes
Instead of draining our savings, my budget puts even more dollars away, increasing Arizona’s Rainy Day Fund to a record $1 billion. If ever there were a way to protect public education, to protect the pay raises our teachers and law enforcement personnel have earned, and to ensure a strong safety net for those who need it most, it’s through this thoughtful, prudent and fiscally conservative approach.
This budget is straight forward, continues to pay back debt, and unwind the recession-era gimmicks and tricks used in the past. Top among them? Regaining ownership of Arizona’s Capitol and many other buildings previously put up for sale.
Arizona became known during the recession – with the help of The Daily Show – for selling off our state Capitol and leasing it back. Now, with a healthy economy and budget surplus, Arizona is reclaiming ownership, free and clear, of buildings like the state Capitol.
Not only will these buildings be Arizona’s again, but our action will save the state more than $100 million over the next 10 years.
Protect teacher raises, boost K-12 funding
And where we can make targeted investments that will make a difference, my budget makes them.
Last year, with the help of teachers, parents, students, superintendents and more, we passed 20 percent raises for our teachers by 2020. Half of this commitment was added last fall, with many school leaders going even further. My budget protects and fulfills these raises, providing more than $165 million and continuing our commitment to increase teacher salaries.
But that’s not all. In total, my budget boosts funding to K-12 public schools by $636 million. This increase includes:
- $381 million for inflation and enrollment growth;
- $68 million in flexible funding for operations and capital expenses; and
- $98 million in results-based funding, which rewards high outcomes with a focus on low-income schools.
These investments continue my commitment to increasing funding for public schools every year – above and beyond inflation.
Expand career education programs
Securing Arizona’s future includes focusing on the classroom and on what comes next for our students – whether that’s college or a career. Across Arizona, schools are taking advantage of innovative programs to equip students with the career skills needed in high-demand industries.
Students in these programs, known as Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, have a 99 percent graduation rate, well above the national average, and perform better than their peers in math and reading.
My budget includes $10 million to build on this success, creating an incentive program that gives schools offering CTE programs up to $1,000 for each high school student who graduates with specific industry certifications.
This would stem the teacher shortage
The key to a providing a quality education is the teacher at the front of the classroom. That’s why my budget invests $21 million to expand the Arizona Teachers Academy.
This program provides scholarships to students who commit to teach in an Arizona public school, with 221 students already moving through the program. Expanding it will put even more qualified teachers in our classrooms, help address Arizona’s teacher shortage, and create a pipeline of talent and the next generation of Arizona teachers.
Good ideas know no political party. I was honored to have at my State of the State this week the person who came up with the idea for the Teacher’s Academy: Fred DuVal, my 2014 Democratic opponent for governor and the newest member of the Arizona Board of Regents.
Arizona is grateful for Fred’s lifetime of public service, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to create more opportunities for Arizona students.
Safe schools remains a priority
Last year, I convened teachers, students, parents, principals, law enforcement and mental health professionals and asked them, “what can we do to make our schools safer?” The result was the Safe Arizona Schools Plan, a balanced, commonsense plan.
This year’s budget adds more resources to the plan to make it even stronger. For example, we know having a cop around makes things safer, so my budget invests $9 million to place a cop on every high school campus that needs one. It also provides $6 million to hire more school counselors and social workers.
Those in uniform deserve pay raises
Likewise, secure, safe communities depend on our brave men and women in uniform and their families. This year’s budget recognizes their service by increasing pay for positions that haven’t seen raises in years, including 10 percent raises for our state troopers, up to 15 percent raises for correctional officers, and 9 percent raises for caseworkers at the Department of Child Safety.
It’s the right thing to do, for those who put their lives on the line to protect public safety.
Invest in our water future
As we continue to look to the future, our greatest focus remains protecting Arizona’s most important natural resource: water.
Over the last few months, stakeholders from across the state have worked together to put a viable plan on the table to protect our water supply, known as the Drought Contingency Plan.
The plan takes into consideration all water users across our state while ensuring we are far-sighted and conservative with our water usage.
It’s time Arizona ratified this plan – and my budget provides $35 million in conservation and infrastructure resources to help get it across the finish line.
Arizona has come a long way in the last four years. We’ve battled our way out of a devastating recession, and our future is brighter than ever. Securing that future will require we continue to work together, to solve the big issues – the hard issues – and do the things that matter. I’m ready to get to work.
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