In a call for Arizonans and their public servants “to work together to make a significant impact in the lives and communities of this state today and for years to come by lowering costs and investing in public education, securing our water future, tackling the affordable housing crisis, and other real issues that are holding back too many,” Governor Katie Hobbs presented her plan to create a “resilient, innovative, and prosperous Arizona for everyone” before a joint session of the State Legislature in her first State of the State Address.
Please click here to read the full transcript of the Governor’s State of the State Address.
Call for Working Together and Drawing a Line in the Sand.
Invoking the memories and legacies of the late Arizona Secretary of State official Mel Hannah and Governor Rose Mofford, Governor Hobbs asked all the legislators assembled at her address to come together and work for a better Arizona and enact measures that will lift its residents up.
Among her introductory remarks calling for everyone to band together to move the state and the people forward, the Governor said:
“…Let’s begin to have candid discussions about the issues facing our state. We can work together to ensure a better future for every family and community…we have a profound obligation to listen, to find common ground, and to craft real solutions during the 56th legislature…“
“…I would like to extend an invitation. Let’s work together to make a significant impact in the lives and communities of this state today and for years to come by lowering costs and investing in public education, securing our water future, tackling the affordable housing crisis, and other real issues that are holding back too many. The people of Arizona have sent us here to find solutions to these issues and that’s exactly what my Administration will be focused on doing for the next four years…”
“…It will take all of us to maintain our strength, fix our deficiencies, and blaze new trails for the generations that follow. We start this new chapter in a unique position. The State of our State offers promise and we must act on it…”
Governor Hobbs also drew a line in the sand at those who would rather take the state and the people backward, repeating lines from her inaugural address where she relayed:
“If you’re ready to make real progress on the issues that matter most to the people of this state, then my door will always be open. However chasing conspiracy theories, pushing agendas for special interests, attacking the rights of your fellow Arizonans, or seeking to further undermine our Democracy will lead nowhere.”
Governor Hobb’s priorities for a “resilient, innovative, and prosperous Arizona for everyone.”
Before outlining her priorities for a “resilient, innovative, and prosperous Arizona for everyone,” Governor Hobbs called attention to the plight of various communities across the state from rural communities being left behind because they lacked the infrastructure they need like “high-speed internet” or people being squeezed by high rents and driven from their homes or the state’s failure to “invest fairly in public education in every community,” and the need to protect forests and watersheds from fire and drought, saying:
“As we look to the future, we can not afford to kick the can down the road on these issues and so many others. We owe it to our fellow Arizonans, both this generation and the next to face these challenges head-on.”
Investing in Education.
The first priority the Governor highlighted was investing in public education.
Saying, “education gave me a chance to climb my way up and build a better life. I know that’s true for countless other Arizonans and for many in this chamber today. And that’s why I have spent so much of my public life fighting for better schools and to level the playing field – and that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do as governor,” Hobbs outlined the following measures she would like to do for public education this year.
- Called on the legislature to fulfill the broken promise of Governor Doug Ducey and immediately pass a suspension of the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) so all public schools can spend all the monies the state funded for them last year. It is estimated schools will face the explosion of a fiscal time bomb if action is not taken by March 1, 2023.
- Launching an Education Retention Taskforce to help alleviate, as the Governor and former Superintendent Kathy Hoffman called the teacher retention crisis.
- Historic investments in the Governor’s budget for K 12 schools.
- Redirecting $68.6 million from a program to help schools with high letter grades to all schools across the state. This will especially assist schools in rural areas.
- Ensuring private schools that use voucher dollars are held to the same accountability standards as public schools.
- Further reducing the student-to-counselor ratio from its current over 700 to 1 ratio. It had been over 900 but grant monies from Superintendent Hoffman’s tenure helped reduce that level over the last two years.
- More funding for dual enrollment opportunities, community colleges, and state universities, especially in rural areas.
- Expanding the Arizona Promise Scholarship Program from 4,000 to 14,000 students.
- $40 million for the “Promise for DREAMers Scholarship Program to cover all students, regardless of immigration status.”
Helping Lift People Up.
The Governor also outlined key investments in lifting people up ranging from investing in the Housing Trust Fund to a new child tax credit.
Recognizing the high costs of rents and the increasing homelessness situation in Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson, Ms. Hobbs said:
“We can do better. Let’s work together to ensure that here in Arizona, any person who wants to achieve the American Dream or have a safe roof over their head can do so.”
In her budget, she has called for a $150 investment in the Housing Trust Fund. In an Executive Order last week, she reinstituted the “Interagency and Community Council on Homelessness and Housing which would help coordinate and foster collaboration among state and local agencies, the private sector, and nonprofits to help identify solutions for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or struggling with housing affordability.”
Fulfilling more campaign promises, the Governor also called for measures to help families raise their children and lower costs. These include:
- $50 million towards a statewide child tax credit for families making less than $40,000 a year.
- Eliminating the state sales tax for diapers and feminine hygiene products. On these cost-saving proposals, the Governor said:
“These everyday items add up and we can and should help provide this relief to individuals and families who too often must choose between paying their bills or paying for the things they need to be healthy.”
Public Safety at the Border and Reproductive Freedom
Governor Hobbs did not mince words, blaming members of both political parties for sensationalizing and not addressing border security and immigration reform.
Among her comments, the Governor proposed:
“We must take a holistic, realistic, and humane approach to help solve this issue. That means supporting sheriffs and local law enforcement in impacted communities – and it also means supporting community centers and hospitals…I will also continue to push Congress to do its job and pass comprehensive immigration reform…I look forward to working with local law enforcement, nonprofits, and community leaders throughout my time in office to identify real solutions, hold the federal government accountable, and create a Safe Arizona for all its residents.”
Along with promoting public safety at the border, Ms. Hobbs also sought to promote it on the issue of reproductive freedom which 90 percent, according to the Governor of Arizonans support.
Saying “I refuse to stand by and do nothing as my daughter – or anyone’s daughter – now has fewer rights today than I did growing up,” she stated:
“My administration will always protect reproductive freedom for all Arizonans. I will not support, and I will use every power of the governor’s office to stop, any legislation or action that attacks, strips, or delays the liberty or inherent right of any individual to decide what’s best for themselves or their families. My budget will also match the federal Title X money our state receives to provide reproductive health services and family planning medication, bringing our total to more than $12 million. This step will increase the program’s impact here in Arizona for significantly more low-income women. However, this should only be a start. I urge members of the legislature to put bills on my desk that will protect women, support families, and create a future for Arizona where anyone regardless of gender can succeed.”
The Most Vital Issue is Water.
The last priority the Governor articulated in her State of the State Address and the most vital of all is the continuing water drought crisis.
Saying “none of the solutions – or even the future – I have spoken about today will be possible without our state’s most precious resource – water,” the Governor chided her immediate predecessor for not releasing a report showing the Phoenix West Valley has lost 15 percent of its 100-year water supply and the lack of oversight and regulations that have allowed Saudi Arabian agricultural interests to use water, farming alfalfa in LaPaz County for shipment back to their own country. Ms. Hobbs asserted that “our groundwater should be used to support Arizonans, not foreign business interests.”
In addressing the water crisis, after her State of the State Address, she issued an Executive Order to create the Governor’s Water Policy Council to help with the process of modernizing the Arizona Groundwater Management Act, especially for rural communities.
Other measures the Governor is advocating to help address this water drought, now in a Tier Two situation that is halting the delivery of twenty-one percent of Arizona’s regular water supply from the Colorado River, are:
- “the re-establishing the Governor’s Energy Office is a priority for communities across the state. In response, we will relaunch this entity as the Governor’s Office of Resiliency, which will focus on water, energy, and land use solutions.”
- Helping rural communities by funding Active Management Areas for their groundwater supply.
- Calling on the legislature to work with her to come up with “innovative solutions” to address this problem because “barring a miracle from nature, it will likely get worse before it gets better…experts here in Arizona and across the nation agree there is no “silver bullet” solution to our current water challenges. We must evaluate and invest in both short- and long-term efforts that will help us achieve our goals.”
Echoing the same themes of Working Together at the end of her State of the State Address.
The Governor returned to the themes of banding together and finding common ground she expressed at the beginning of her address: stating:
“My administration is ready and willing to work with you and we will always do what’s best for Arizona and its people…These challenges will not be easy. Nor will the other issues we need to confront, including fixing prisons, improving accessibility for all Arizonans, lowering childcare costs, supporting veterans, protecting older and vulnerable Arizonans, and so much more…But the people of Arizona did not send us to this capitol to solve easy problems or to leave them up to the next generation. They sent us here to do the right thing – no matter how difficult that may prove to be. We will not let them down…In the days, months, and years ahead – of all-night budget negotiations, marathon voting sessions, and seemingly impassable disagreements – let us never forget that we all hold a deep love for this state. We are here because we want to ensure the generations that follow, have a chance to discover that love….Thank you for committing to public service, for your partnership in finding real solutions, and for the contributions, we will all make going forward as we build an Arizona for everyone. Now let’s get to work.”