Ducey 2018 State of the State Speech Once Again Showcases his Doubletalk

For Immediate Release
January 8th, 2018
Josselyn Berry | josselyn@progressnowarizona.org | 602-376-5705
Available for commentary

Ducey 2018 State of the State Speech Once Again Showcases his Doubletalk

Phoenix- Governor Ducey’s 2018 state of the state — his fourth and last of his term — included plenty of feel-good rhetoric and heartwarming stories, while offering almost nothing in the way of solutions to Arizona’s biggest problems, from the teacher shortage crisis to ever-rising healthcare costs.

“Gov. Ducey’s speech was all over the map. It was filled with nice promises but little substance or real policy solutions to the issues that are at the top of people’s minds, like continued access to healthcare and our education crisis. He seemed more excited about deregulating blow-dry bars than addressing Arizona’s abysmal teacher salaries – which are some of the lowest in the country,” said Josselyn Berry, Co-Director of ProgressNow Arizona.

#DoubleTalkDucey was one of the top trending hashtags in Phoenix during the speech.

Below are excerpts from the speech, with fact checks and examples of Ducey’s doubletalk:

“Over the last three years, we’ve committed 1.7 billion new state dollars to K- 12 education….I’ve pledged to increase spending on K-12 education, above and beyond inflation, every year I’m in office…80 percent of our new budget priorities you’ll see Friday will be for public education. ”

  • Ducey took credit for the additional education investment that stemmed from the passage of Prop 123, despite the fact that the proposition was necessary to settle a lawsuit on underinvestment in education.
  • Ducey promised that education would make up 80% of his budget this year — but offered no information on the overall size of his budget and no specific policy proposals for obtaining additional education revenue. Arizona needs to invest $1 billion to replace the revenue lost to public schools since 2008; Ducey offered no ideas for where that money could be found.
  • Arizona is currently 50th in the nation for teacher pay.
  • Nearly 2,000 Arizona teaching positions are vacant, and more than 800 teachers have already quit this year.

“Our three public universities continue to be national pillars in higher education.”

  • Ducey boasted about the success of the state’s public universities, despite the fact that Ducey’s policies have reduced per-student spending on higher education from $9,648 in 2007-2008 to $4,068 in 2017-2018.

“While Members of Congress give meaningless floor speeches and drag their feet, we’ve got a plan to fund KidsCare through the spring.”

  • Ducey loudly advocated for the Affordable Care Act repeal, but was quiet about urging Congress and Republicans in power to support the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as KidsCare in Arizona. A records request filed by The Arizona Republic found Ducey wasn’t doing much outreach to those in D.C. about KidsCare — until reporters started asking him about it.

“Our [opioid] package will attack this issue from all angles, while protecting individuals who suffer from chronic pain, and maintaining compassion for those struggling with addiction.”

  • Ducey called many times for the repeal of the ACA — despite the fact that the ACA was recognized by experts as a “sea change” when it came to addiction care.
  • Ducey is also actively trying to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients — despite concerns from many observers, including fellow Republican lawmakers, that doing so could devastate those who depend on Medicaid for addiction services.
  • In September, Ducey’s Department of Health Services released a long-awaited set of recommendations for addressing the opioid crisis. Early drafts of the document included recommendations for needle exchange programs, which have been shown to make drug users more likely to seek treatment, as well as reducing rates of HIV and Hepatitis C infections. But despite the advice of experts, the needle exchange recommendation was taken out of the final report — leaving Phoenix’s only needle exchange program continuing to operate under the radar and without funding.
  • Meanwhile, Ducey has touted the benefits of an anti-opiate medication called Vivitrol, calling it a “miracle drug” in last year’s State of the State. But Vivitrol is not as well studied as existing drugs like methadone or buprenorphine, and at $1,300 per shot, it is also considerably more expensive. Ducey’s support for Vivitrol could have something to do with the fact that the company that makes Vivitrol, Alkermes, is a partner of ALEC — or it could be because his long-time friend Jim Norton was, until recently, an Alkermes lobbyist. Vivitrol’s aggressive marketing and lobbying practices recently led Senator Kamala Harris to call for an investigation into the company.

“Our economy is growing…since 2015, we’ve added more than 160,000 private sector jobs. The last time the unemployment rate was this low, we were all renting movies from Blockbuster.”

  • The average income of an Arizona household is below the national average, and has grown at a rate slower than the rest of the nation since Ducey has taken office .
  • A majority of Arizonans gave Governor Ducey a grade of “C” or lower when asked about his management of the state’s economy. Thirty-five percent of respondents gave him a C grade, while 13 and 14 percent gave him a D or F. Twenty-five percent gave him a B and just 8 percent gave him an A.

“This session, we must…put forward responsible policies that ensure Arizona speaks with one voice to secure the state’s water future for generations to come.”

  • Ducey has shown little to no willingness to deal with the reality of climate change, which will devastate Arizona’s water supplies. In 2015, Ducey said he was skeptical about the existence of man-made climate change. Although he has, since then, admitted that human activity is “contributing” to climate change, he has taken few steps to address the state’s carbon emissions, and supported President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. Scientists say that climate change will increase demand for water in Arizona while dramatically constricting supply. Flow in the Colorado River, for instance, could decline by as much as 50% by 2100, while rainfall in the monsoon season could drop by 30 to 40%.
  • The water negotiations being conducted by Ducey have taken place behind closed doors, with key stakeholders like lawmakers, the environmental community and representatives from Southern Arizona being largely shut out of the process.

Some things NOT Mentioned in Ducey’s State of the State Speech today:

Ducey repeatedly sided with the Trump administration in repealing the Affordable Care Act, saying: “Obamacare is a failure. It’s time for it to go.’” This was despite the fact that half a million Arizonans depend on the program for their coverage, either through the state’s Medicaid expansion or the ACA insurance exchanges.

Real Support for Moms and Families
While Ducey bragged about his Happy Babies initiative, which lets state employees bring newborns to work, he didn’t mention he signed legislation that preempted cities and counties from requiring private employers to offer paid vacation time and maternity leave. Ducey also said the Happy Babies program is “helping more Arizona parents avoid having to decide between work and family,” but he opposed the paid family leave initiative that voters passed in 2016.

Teacher Shortage
Governor Doug Ducey has claimed to be a friend to teachers, but his actions tell another story. He not only signed a law letting untrained hires go into our children’s classrooms, he gave Arizona’s notoriously low-paid teachers a paltry one-time, two percent pay increase — while giving his own friends in his administration double digit raises.

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