rubio-dont-always-drink-waterI caught a “fluff piece” interview of Senator Marco “Big Gulp” Rubio by CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes on Monday evening about his new book, American Dreams — the obligatory presidential exploratory candidate pulp book– in which Sen. Rubio says that “Republicans haven’t been creative or innovative enough in offering solutions. “ Marco Rubio nears decision for 2016 presidential bid (video link).

“From the Republican perspective I think the answer to all these problems has historically been well let’s cuts taxes, let’s reduce the debt, and let’s get rid of some regulations, and that’s it, we’re done. But you just can’t stop there. You also have to address, for example, our higher education system, which is not just expensive, it is irrelevant in many instances to what people need in the 21st Century.”

An interesting perspective after earlier in the afternoon  listening to Arizona Governor Dicey Doug Ducey deliver his State of The State Speech to the Arizona legislature, in which he offered the same tired old conservative bromides of “let’s cuts taxes, let’s reduce the debt, and let’s get rid of some regulations, and that’s it, we’re done, ” of which Sen. Rubio disapproved.

I had expected much more from the man hired by Koch Industries to manage their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona (h/t Charles Piece), now known as “Kochtopia.” I anticipated that he would go the full “Scott Walker,” as the governor of Wisconsin did four years ago. It would appear that Governor Ducey is not as well prepared or as politically ambitious as his fellow governor.

Governor Ducey’s State of The State speech was panned by political pundits as entirely lacking in substance and details. Here is how Howard Fischer described it, Ducey calls for better schools, no tax hikes:

The new governor, in his first State of the State speech, said Arizona has many high-quality schools where parents want to send their children. But he said these schools are at capacity and need more space. But Ducey provided no specifics Monday of exactly how that would be done or who would pick up the costs.

Nor did he explain what happens when public schools once again get the state funds they have been denied, funds that will let them hire more teachers, decrease class size and again need the space.

He also promised to help school districts repay the money they’ve borrowed for capital improvements. But Ducey, who insisted he won’t raise taxes — or even delay tax cuts that have not yet taken effect — did not say where that money will come from.

And the new governor was similarly lacking in specifics on his pledge to actually put more dollars into classrooms, beyond saying that Arizona schools spend too much on administrative costs. So he is putting together a team to find ways to move some of that money into things like teacher salaries.

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Ducey said details of how he intends to deal with a potential $500 million shortfall this fiscal year and another $1 billion next year will come when he releases his budget on Friday. But in the interim he has imposed a hiring freeze for any services except public safety or child safety.

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Ducey said the vacant classrooms would be administered by a newly created Arizona Public School Achievement District. But he had no specifics on questions regarding paying rent, liability spending, or even how long one school could claim space in another.

“It will take time to flush out all the details,” press aide Daniel Scarpinato said.

snakeoilReally? This guy ran for governor for well over a year, but during his campaign he offered few details. Ducey’s Inaugural Address last week was panned by political pundits as entirely lacking in substance and details, see The Arizona Republic. Ducey’s inaugural speech doesn’t add up.  And Ducey still has not offered any substance and details in his State of The State speech. See The Republic again, Doug Ducey’s grand vision is still MIA.

This does not speak well of Dicey Doug Ducey’s intellect, preparation, and attention to detail. I am getting the uneasy feeling that this guy is just a front man, and that the details will actually come from the people with whom he has surrounded himself, in particular his new chief of staff, former “Kochtupus” dark money bag man Kirk Adams. The media should keep a watchful eye on who influences our new governor. They are the power behind the throne.

The Republic’s Laurie Roberts was appropriately harsh on Governor Ducey for his lack of substance and details. Ducey: funding inflation only fair (unless you’re a school):

No surprises in Gov. Doug Ducey’s first State of the State speech. But there were a few puzzlers.

He pledged to allow scheduled business tax cuts to go into effect but was short on details of how he’ll bridge a projected $1 billion budget deficit.

He announced a state hiring freeze and pledged to get rid of outdated regulations but offered not a single example of those outdated regulations or how they’re holding us back.

He suggested that we hire “an unbiased inspector general mandated to find more areas of savings – and where corruption exists, shine a light on it.” But he didn’t explain how the job that would differ from the job of state auditor general.

He put deadbeat dads and under performing schools on notice but never outlined what he plans to do that can’t already be done under state law.

As for M word — Medicaid — it never passed his lips. Will he or won’t he continue defending a legislative lawsuit aimed at yanking a hundred thousand or more Arizonans off of AHCCCS? (And if he drops it, what then given that state law requires that we cover most of them?)

Most interesting to me: Ducey wants to index income taxes to inflation, calling it “an issue of fairness.” But when it comes to funding inflation for schools – something the courts have already ruled the state hasn’t done despite a voter-approved law requiring it – he called for compromise.

Schools have thus far won at every level of the courts system, So I’m guessing by compromise he means that schools should forgo some of the more than $317 million in added funding they’re due this year? Or some of the $336 million in added funding the Legislature has been ordered to pay them next year?

As expected, Ducey called for reducing waiting lists at popular district and charter schools. This, by forcing school districts to lease unused space to charters and guaranteeing loans to help charter-school operators lower their cost of building new schools.

To his credit, he stipulated that half of the schools would have to be built in low-income communities. But he didn’t address the other big issue standing in the way of lower- and middle-income parents who want to send their children to charter schools: transportation.

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A 2014 auditor general report on school spending for the previous fiscal year showed that statewide, districts spent just 53.8percent of their funding on instruction — the lowest level in the 13 years that the auditor general has been monitoring it.

Administrators will tell you that much of the problem is due to fixed costs, like maintenance and transportation.

One final note: Dicey Doug Ducey played to the nativist and racist base of the GOP during the campaign with inflammatory rhetoric about “border security,” but that hot button topic has disappeared since election day.

Demonizing people for breathing while brown and playing to nativists and racists simply to get elected is an ugly practice, and does not speak well of his character.