PHOENIX — Governor Katie Hobbs, in her first State of the State Address, outlined how she plans to tackle the challenges facing Arizonans, embarking on a path of bipartisan cooperation with the Arizona Legislature for a better future.
“The people of Arizona did not send us to this Capitol to solve easy problems or to leave them 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,” Governor Hobbs said.
Arizona’s 24th governor welcomed candid discussion about the issues facing our beloved state and provided clarity and understanding of her top priorities in her first year on the job: Continue building a resilient, innovative and prosperous Arizona for everyone.
Investing in Public Education
“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. 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.”
Governor Hobbs named education as a top issue for her administration: chief among them, addressing the potentially catastrophic school funding cap. The governor promised to rebuild and reinvest in Arizona’s public schools, getting resources to school districts and rewarding hard-working teachers.
Additional steps proposed by the Governor to improve education:
Address the archaic spending cap, saving Arizona’s schools from a forced $1.3 billion budget cut due to the outdated Aggregate Expenditure Limit
Remedy the irresponsible, massive expansion of school vouchers by truly investing in public schools, teachers and students
Launch an Educator Retention Task Force to retain more teachers, develop a thorough framework and make recommendations to improve class sizes, resources, working conditions, and other factors.
Pump the brakes on the costly and wasteful lawsuit over school facility funding, putting the focus back on solving problems and educating students
Distribute per-pupil funding to base support level for schools, removing the misguided funding based on letter grades
Expand mental health resources by hiring additional social workers and counselors in schools
Invest in community colleges and dual-enrollment programs so no matter where a student lives, they have the opportunity to earn college credit or get a good-paying job
Expand the capacity of the Arizona Promise Scholarship Program and create the Promise for DREAMers Scholarship Program to cover all students, regardless of immigration status, who attend a public university
Tackling Affordable Housing
“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.”
Many Arizona residents can’t afford rapidly increasing housing prices. At the same time, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness has risen significantly. Governor Hobbs urged the need for solutions to housing affordability, building on her recent action re-establishing the Interagency and Community Council on Homelessness and Housing.
The governor identified additional strategies to ensure every Arizonan has a safe roof over their head:
Invest $150 million into the Housing Trust Fund
Encourage affordable housing strategies among builders, the public sector and communities
“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.”
Arizona families are facing some of the highest costs in the nation for everyday items and services. Governor Hobbs outlined efforts to bring down costs and help Arizonans stay afloat or get ahead.
The Governor offered partnership with the Legislature to ensure every community can thrive economically, naming the following solutions:
Establish a state-level, child tax credit for families earning less than $40,000 a year
Exempt key items including diapers and feminine hygiene products from the state sales tax
“Visit border communities and speak with local leaders and law enforcement like I – and many others here – have done and you come away with a broader understanding of the complexities of this issue and the urgent need to institute solutions.”
Governor Hobbs emphasized the public safety obligation that extends to the broken immigration system and the border communities that bear the brunt of Washington, D.C.’s inaction. She called for the clock to run out on the political stunts.
The Governor offered a holistic, realistic and humane approach to help solve the issue:
Support sheriffs, local law enforcement, community resources and hospitals
Push Congress to do its job and pass comprehensive immigration reform
Invited Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to visit the border and meet with community leaders, sheriffs, non-profit representatives, and business executives in impacted communities who all want effective and humane solutions to this longtime challenge
“Ensuring a strong, safe future for Arizona means defending the freedoms of all of its residents. 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.”
Governor Hobbs urged the Legislature to put bills on her desk that protect women, support families and create a future where anyone regardless of gender can succeed. An overwhelming majority of Arizonans – more than 90 percent – believe abortion should be legal. The governor promised to heed this message and ensure Arizonans can always make the healthcare decisions that are right for them.
Securing our Water Future
“My decision to release this report signals how I plan to tackle our water issues openly and directly,” said Governor Hobbs after announcing the report would drop in legislator’s inboxes momentarily.
Putting action behind her commitment to transparency, Governor Hobbs released during the speech a report that shows the Phoenix West Valley’s water basin is short of its 100-year supply of water required by law.
The governor called to band together to meet the moment and address Arizona’s water challenges with a plan for a Resilient Arizona.
Establish the Governor’s Office of Resiliency, which will focus on water, energy and land use solutions through a collaborative approach among state agencies, tribal governments, universities and community organizations
Modernize the Arizona Groundwater Management Act, updating the state’s management tools and protecting groundwater supplies
Ensure Arizona’s groundwater supports residents and close water poaching loopholes that have enabled foreign business interests to pump local groundwater
Support rural communities in managing groundwater and strike a balance between usage and recharging aquifers