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Governor talks plans in Tucson speech

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 08:56:30-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called for reduced regulations, more trade with Mexico, and more support for education as he gave the Tucson version of his State of the State speech Tuesday.
The Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce hosted the Governor as he gave a tailored for Tucson version of the annual speech he gave to state lawmakers Monday.
The Governor said his policies helped pull the state budget out of the red, and put money in the state treasury--and he promised to defend that money against what he sees as lawmakers ready to resume irresponsible spending.
He took time to praise an experimental program the state prison system tried in Pima County designed to help ex-convicts kick drug abuse and avoid a return to prison.
A lot of criminals end up back in prison when they sink back into drug abuse. It can violate their paroles and push them to commit new crimes.
In both versions of his State of the State speech, Governor Ducey praised a Corrections Department program designed to keep ex-convicts from being hauled back to prison.
He said, "Let's begin by building on the model already working right here in Pima County: a community corrections center providing tough love and on-site drug treatment counseling."
The Governor says the programs worked so well, and reduced the need for more prison space so effectively, he's like to see a similar program in Maricopa County.
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall likes the sound of that.  Her office has had a similar program for about four years.  It diverts non-violent drug offenses who would have been headed from prison and put them into treatment to kick the habits that make trouble for themselves, and the rest of us.
LaWall says, “It is incredibly cost effective.   It costs about nine thousand dollars for the entire time, for about three years versus 40 thousand dollars a year for a prison sentence.  So we can work to prevent people from going to prison and then spend money on the back end when people come out of prison to prevent them from recidivating and re-offending and going back into prison.  All of this is really good stuff."
Governor Ducey promised to boost money for public schools, largely by convincing voters to approve a May 17th referendum to tap money from land the state owns.
"This all comes from the Proposition but it has supplemental funds from the budget and the General Fund that will add to it.  These are additional dollars and they're significant so people need to be engaged on this.">
Tucson Chamber CEO Mike Varney likes the Governor's call to improve trade with Mexico and reduce excess regulation that he says can hold businesses back.
"I applauded for everything that had to do with economic expansion.  If we can get our economy growing here in Arizona, we can solve a lot of other problems and I know the Governor's behind that philosophy a hundred percent."
The Governor also talked about cracking down on parents who are behind on child support and spoke of re-working the child foster care system, to make it easier for family members like grandparents to gain custody of children.