This week state lawmakers returned to the Capitol for the start of their legislative session. Arizona 360 heard from leadership on all sides about their priorities this year. After delivering his State of the State address to a Southern Arizona audience in Tucson, Gov. Doug Ducey sat down with Lorraine Rivera to discuss his agenda.
On the issue of education, Rivera asked Gov. Ducey about criticism that the state lags behind most of the country in spending per pupil for instruction.
“Remember what happened before I came here. There were some real spending years in the state of Arizona. It was almost like binge eating,” Ducey said. “And then the downturn came and Arizona had to go on a starvation diet. Today I feel like we’re on a healthy, sustainable diet and we’re adding additional dollars each year.”
Gov. Ducey also announced plans to close the Florence State Prison and transfer inmates to facilities run by the counties or third-party operators. Prison staff will move to the nearby Eyman prison. Ducey said the closure will save the state $274 million over three years.
“Is the move to privatize the system somehow?,” Rivera asked.
“No. The move is for public safety. The move is for efficiency, to save taxpayer dollars. But I also want to say on my watch as governor you’re not going to see me building another state prison,” Ducey said.
His speech was also critical of the so-called sanctuary city ballot initiative that failed in Tucson last November. He applauded an upcoming effort by Republican Rep. T.J. Shope to introduce a statewide ballot referral that would ban future attempts to establish a sanctuary city in Arizona.
“We think it’s important that Arizonans have the opportunity to say yes to the rule of law and no to sanctuary cities,” Gov. Ducey said.