Arizona inauguration: Doug Ducey says state must act on water, avoid spending 'spree'
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks to the crowd after taking the oath of office in Phoenix on Jan. 7, 2019. The Republic | azcentral.com
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey started his second term Monday by warning that the state must finish a plan to address a potential Colorado-River shortage and avoid a spending spree with its projected budget surplus.
Ducey emphasized those aims during a short speech Monday for his public inauguration ceremony at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. He took the oath of office onstage standing alongside his wife, Angela, and their three sons.
He easily won re-election in the November election, trouncing Democrat David Garcia.
Ducey began his speech by touting some of the state's accomplishments during his first four years in office, including sizable job growth and legislation to combat the opioid-addiction crisis.
He said those accomplishments were the result of bipartisanship. That theme was present throughout Monday's ceremony, during which five other statewide elected officials also were sworn in.
Ducey warned Arizona must avoid polarization to meet its next challenges.
"This isn’t Washington, D.C.," he said. "Here, we know each other. Name-calling and game playing don’t work. Good faith and good will do. Truth is, it’s tough to be disagreeable when you run into each other at church, kids’ games or the grocery store."
Now, Ducey said state leaders must work together over the next four years to address his priorities.
He talked about a wide range of goals: getting more qualified teachers in the classroom; making sure students are prepared for careers after graduation; preventing so many young men from ending up in prison, and combating drug tracking and human smuggling.
Governor: Critical water shortfall is 'imminent'
But Ducey struck an especially urgent tone when he spoke about the state's water future, noting the state has risen above partisan labels to meet its water challenges in the past.
"I don’t have to spell out the parallel circumstances in which we find ourselves today," he said, referring to drought-contingency plans being negotiated by states on the Colorado River.
A federal commissioner has told Arizona and Colorado they have a Jan. 31 deadline to sign onto a set of Colorado River drought agreements. But Arizona leaders are nowhere near agreeing about what the approach should be.
"It’s simple," Ducey said. "Arizona and our neighboring states draw more water from the Colorado River than mother nature puts back.
"And with a critical shortfall imminent, we cannot kick the can any further."
Big surplus shouldn't mean big spending
Ducey also said he plans to approach the state's projected budget surplus — the largest in a decade — with a frugal mindset. The state could have a surplus of about $900 million next fiscal year.
"But we’re not going on a spending spree," he said.
"We’re going to live within our means. We’re going to fulfill teacher pay raises, and we’re going to be better prepared for the next downturn so it doesn’t become a calamity."
Ducey unequivocally said he will oppose a tax increase. That comes despite his approval of a fee hike for drivers last year that totaled $32 per vehicle. His comments come as even some Republicans in the Legislature have talked about a tax increase to fund education.
Republic reporter Maria Polletta contributed to this article.
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