PHOENIX (3TV / CBS 5 / AP) –Governor Doug Ducey used his eighth and final state-of-state address on Monday to announce a historic water investment plan. He said the goal is to “secure the future of Arizona’s water for the next 100 years.” The investment is reportedly $ 1 billion over the next three years, but Ducey did not go into details.
“Instead of just talking about desalination – the technology that made Israel the world’s water superpower – how about paving the way for this to actually happen? Ducey said in his nearly hour-long address. He did not say where he would like to build a desalination plant, but water policy experts have long discussed the possibility of using water from the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, the sea closest to Arizona.
Ducey is entering his final year with the state, which has a large budget surplus. This is a major turnaround from his first speech to lawmakers in 2015, when he faced a billion dollar deficit. Lawmakers also set aside $ 200 million last year for future water infrastructure.
The western United States is in the grip of a prolonged drought. Reductions in Arizona’s Colorado River water allocation have already forced some farmers to leave their fields fallow, and more cuts are likely in the future in the absence of climate change major. Ducey said he was working on the plan with Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers and Senate Speaker Karen Fann, both Republicans.
Ducey also continued his harsh speech on the border during the speech, describing different ways to make it secure. He wants to create the “US Governors Border Strike Force,” which would be a partnership between border states to share intelligence information and increase cybersecurity.
Ducey called for state money for border walls and for more sanctions for human trafficking. “If the whole southern border is not secure, neither is our nation,” he said. He also wants money to expand the border-centric state police unit.
Ducey has targeted Democrats across the country, including President Joe Biden and his administration on border security and tax policies in liberal states like California. He called on Arizona Democratic Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema to demand that his border priorities be adopted at the federal level.
“Instead of being the voice of reason, he chose to take a partisan approach and that is unfortunate for the state,” said parliamentary minority leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen.
Bolding said the governor’s water proposal “could be a promising area” if it involves Democrats in the discussions, but said it would be difficult to engage Democrats if they are not consulted.
Education in Arizona
He did not reveal any new plans to fight COVID-19, but repeated his warning that schools would not close. He has resisted mask or vaccine warrants and restrictions on public gatherings, saying vaccination is key to weathering the pandemic.
He said the state would create a summer school to help children catch up in math, reading and civics. Ducey, already in favor of the choice of school, wants to extend it even more with “greater open enrollment” and more charter schools. “Let’s think big and find other ways to get kids into the school of their parents’ choice,” Ducey said.
He said lawmakers should ban the teaching of critical race theory, a college-level academic concept that is not widely taught in public schools. Lawmakers banned it in the budget last year, but the state’s Supreme Court has declared several budget bills unconstitutional, including the one with the ban. He said schools should be required to publish “all academic curricula and materials” online.
He also proposed increasing the allowance paid to grandparents or other family members caring for children who would otherwise be placed with a foreigner in foster care. The state has historically paid family members much less than independent caregivers.
“These loving extended family members should have the same resources as any other foster family,” he said.
Ducey took office in 2015 with a commitment to cut taxes every year and get income taxes as close to zero as possible. It has largely been successful, culminating with the signing last year of a bill reducing taxes to 2.5% for everyone – a small cut for low-income people and a big boon for most taxpayers. rich.
This nearly $ 2 billion tax cut is on hold after critics gathered enough signatures to give voters a chance to eliminate it later this year. To get around this problem, lawmakers are considering repealing it and replacing it with a new, potentially larger tax cut. Ducey declined to weigh on the proposal, but pledged Monday that “we will cut taxes”.
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