Gov. Doug Ducey delivered his 2021 State of the State address Monday afternoon with a message of maintaining resilience against COVID-19, returning students to classrooms and advocating for lower income taxes.
The governor began his address calling the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 a “sickening day in Washington D.C. that no American will ever forget.”
Ducey, who campaigned alongside Trump this year, condemned the siege of the capitol building that was incited by the president himself.
“In the United States of America, violence and vandalism have no place in the people's house. Perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Ducey said. “Let us condemn it and resolve that it never happens again.”
Ducey refuses statewide "lockdowns" to prevent COVID-19 spread
The governor acknowledged the significant strain on healthcare workers to care for a growing number of COVID-19 patients but adamantly rejected instituting lockdowns in a state currently experiencing the second-highest rate of the virus’ transmission in the nation.
“Why not ban all gatherings and just lock everything down? It's a question that only makes sense if you forget about everything else, all the other troubles that lockdowns set in motion,” he said. “The rest of life doesn't stop in a pandemic. Least of all our basic responsibilities. People still have bills to pay, children in need of schooling, businesses to run and employees who depend on them.”
Ducey made clear he won’t grant authority to local jurisdictions to impose their own pandemic mitigation policies. Pima County has implemented its own curfew, which is being legally challenged by a group of Tucson bar owners.
“I've been entrusted by the people of Arizona with this responsibility. I'm not going to hand over the keys to a small group of mayors who have expressed every intention of locking down their cities,” Ducey said.
An end to remote learning
After mentioning he’s working to ensure teachers “receive the vaccine as quickly as possible,” Ducey advocated for an end to remote learning models for students to attend school from home.
“We will not be funding empty seats or allowing schools to remain in a perpetual state of closure. Children still need to learn, even in a pandemic,” he said.
Ducey called upon the widening achievement gap among Arizona’s schools to support getting students back into classrooms.
“Before COVID, we had an achievement gap in our schools, and it’s only gotten worse,” he said. “Distance learning has not been good for these students, who often don’t have Wi-Fi or a laptop available. So starting now, let’s direct resources to helping these children catch up. Summer school, longer school days, one-on-one targeted instruction, tutoring.”
With a focus on COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Ducey highlighted the opening of a 24/7 vaccination center at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale he says was opened at his direction.
“While local public health officials are working hard, we need to work faster. So now, even more resources will be brought to the fore,” Ducey said. “Everyone needs this vaccine, and the sooner we all receive it, the more quickly we can get on with life as it should be.”
Tax reform, smaller government
Ducey also called for lowering and reforming taxes in the 2021 legislative session.
“Every year I’ve been governor, we’ve improved income taxes in the taxpayer’s favor. We’ve simplified the code, lowered all rates, protected them against inflation and eliminated an entire tax bracket,” he said. “My goal has been to make Arizona the best place in America to live, work and do business by letting Arizonans keep more of their hard-earned money. And having come this far, as other states chase away opportunity with their new taxes, why on earth would we ever want to follow their failed and depressing example?”
The governor expressed support for small government and even mentioned removing “unnecessary” state government buildings to save money.
“Let’s truly shrink government by eliminating unnecessary state buildings and saving taxpayer dollars, so we can prioritize areas of need, like educating our kids, taking care of our sick and keeping our neighborhoods safe,” he said.
Ducey ended the address with a nod to those most affected by the pandemic and a message of hope that Arizonans can overcome it.
“We must be hopeful for the future, but we cannot forget the challenges we face in the immediate. The nurses and doctors, tired and exhausted as they work overtime to save lives, the Arizonans who are grieving loved ones lost, we must all do our part by doing what we know works: Following public health, wearing a mask and practicing personal responsibility,” he said.
“With resilience and compassion, we move forward, allowing nothing to get in our way, and showing, in the end, the best kind of unity there is—the unity of caring about one another.”