Arizona State of the State Address 2000
By Stateline Staff
PHOENIX, Arizona - Jan. 10 - Following is the full text of Gov. Jane Hull's 2000 State of the State Address:
Thank you President Burns, Speaker Groscost, Minority Leaders Brown and McLendon, Honorable Senators and Representatives, distinguished guests and all Arizonans.
Good afternoon and thank you for your warm welcome.
As always I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my family and thank them for their continued support and patience.
Our meeting today is just the first of many firsts as we start a new century: the first legislative session of the new century, the first State of the State and our first opportunity to put Arizona first.
We should seize that opportunity and rise to the occasion. I am ready to begin the journey. Today, I would like to talk about education, growth, health and safety, the economy, transportation and the environment. You will find several additional issues addressed in your printed material. I'm one of those people who believes that if you can't say it in five minutes, it probably isn't worth saying. I think that translates to about a half an hour in State of the State terms. I'll be brief and to the point.
Our high-tech society is bringing people closer to the process. Arizonans can watch this speech live on cable or this evening on public television. Others can catch it on C-span, still others will be able to download the text from my web site at http://www.governor.state.az.us . I hope that such great access rekindles the people's desire to get involved in this process.
I must commend you, Madam President and Mr. Speaker, for making committee hearings accessible online. Now people can keep an eye on their government without leaving their homes or offices. That is a dramatic change from the days when our work was chopped into 15-second sound bites. The more information the public has the better.
Speaking of serving the public, I understand you intend to adjourn the session in 75 days. That is a good idea, but it doesn't matter how long we stay in session. What matters is what we accomplish. I welcome a 75-day legislative session if the people's business is completed. And if it's not, I will not hesitate to call you back.
I have not forgotten my promises to the people of Arizona, to the parents who send their children to our schools, to the taxpayers who want their burden lifted, to the sick who need our help and to the families, the families who are still struggling to achieve the American dream. My word is my bond, I am their voice.
ARIZONA'S ECONOMY HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER
Fortunately, Arizona is doing a lot of things right. We can thank the people of Arizona and policy makers past and present for some of our successes and thank God for the rest. I don't think Senator Smith will mind if I report that Arizona's economy is faaan-tas-tic!! Arizona's economy has now grown for eight consecutive years. Real incomes are on the rise, while inflation and unemployment are at historic lows. Companies know Arizona is the place to start a business and watch it succeed. This includes large employers like USAA, with the potential for 15,000 high quality jobs that just announced plans to put its western regional center in Phoenix. Yet, the vast majority of new jobs is created by small businesses. That is where Arizona is most vibrant. Last year, nearly 40,000 businesses started up in Arizona, more than ever before. Women and minority-owned businesses are starting up at a record rate. In fact, Arizona has the highest percentage of women-owned businesses in the U.S. at 41 percent. And Inc. magazine says Arizona is the best place in the country to start a new business.
ARIZONA CONTINUES TO LEAD THE NATION IN TAX CUTTING
A big part of Arizona's success story comes from our continuing efforts to lower taxes. Last year we enacted legislation to lower taxes in 2000 and 2001, a nine-year streak of tax cuts unmatched by any other state in the country. Arizonans have seen their state taxes cut by a total of $1.5 billion during that time. I look forward to even more tax cuts when we tackle our second biennial budget next year.
BETTER POSITIONING FOR ARIZONA FOR THE "NEW ECONOMY"
We must not be lulled into complacency by our success. Several recent economic reports have drawn attention to the rapidly changing world economy. The so-called "New Economy" has been defined as "a knowledge-and idea-based economy where the keys to wealth and job creation are the extent to which ideas, innovation and technology are embedded in all sectors of the economy."
The impact of technology on economic growth has no parallel since the dawn of the industrial revolution. According to estimates by the Milken Institute, the high-tech economy grew four times faster than the rest of the economy during the 1990's. Although Arizona is benefiting from this surge, our share of the high-tech economy could be much greater. We must spur technological innovation, entrepreneurship, education and specialized skills. We must lead the transition of all organizations, including government, from bureaucracies to learning networks. (Source: The Public Policy Institute.)
We can do this. A vigorous economy that produces quality jobs and an education system that produces a trained workforce ready to fill those jobs are essential for Arizona's families and children.
We have made a good start. For example, our Students FIRST program requires that we include standards for computers and Internet access. This will help every student prepare for the future and make Arizona a national leader in computer-literate students.
My proposal to triple Arizona's job training program, at no cost to the state general fund, is another step in the right direction. There is more to be done. With this in mind, I have appointed a "Partnership for the New Economy." This group of business, education and civic leaders will help all of us understand the New Economy, assess our readiness, establish benchmarks for measuring progress, and develop strategies to correct deficiencies.
As Arizona has been a leader in cluster development in the late 1980s, so shall we be a leader in the New Economy of the 21st century.
EDUCATION: FOCUSING ON RESULTS
As I said earlier, education is the critical ingredient if we are going to meet our challenges. We have taken an important step with the Students FIRST program. The days of dilapidated structures and backed up plumbing will soon be over. We all wish the process would move faster. But our schools didn't fall apart overnight and they can't be fixed overnight.
We decided at the outset that we would do it right. If more funding is required than we anticipated, so be it. We will find the money and keep our promise to Arizona's children, but we will not be rushed into writing blank checks. Our School Facilities Board will watch over every dollar that is spent.
More important is the next step -- improving the quality of education in the classroom. The AIMS test is all about accountability. Rather than fussing over past failures, we should commit ourselves to helping all children achieve their potential. High academic standards give all students -- not just a select few -- the foundation they must have to succeed. Our students must learn fundamental subjects like reading, writing and mathematics.
Recently, Superintendent Lisa Keegan has called for more resources for AIMS preparation and instruction. I agree that additional investments in K-12 may be needed to ensure more time on task, but only if we are sure that we have maximized every dollar we are currently spending. For too long we have spent money on educational fads rather than on core academic areas. Those days are over in Arizona. I challenge you, as resources become available, to invest in areas that produce academic improvements. Let's look at additional school days, lower class-sizes, summer school courses and better teacher preparation. I want to make sure that Arizona students graduate with a diploma that means something. There can be no excuses.
I would be remiss, while talking about public education, if I didn't mention Senator John Wettaw. John has been a rock-solid supporter of K-12 education programs. And I wonder where our state universities would be today without his support, persistence and determination. Thank you, John.
GROWING SMARTER IS A BETTER WAY TO MANAGE
One of the most important issues facing this legislature is growth. The people want action. Let's face it, we have fallen behind the public's expectations. Growing Smarter, passed in 1997, is the vehicle to get us back on track. Thanks to that landmark legislation, cities and counties are now planning with a more thoughtful eye toward our environment and quality of life.
Also important was the referendum passed by the voters in 1998 that provides $220 million in matching funds for open space. We already have 80,000 acres in the preservation pipeline, and more on the way. In fact, I am pleased to announce that later this week, I will sign an order to preserve 9,000 acres of beautiful desert in North Phoenix. This is Growing Smarter in action.
But we know more needs to be done. We are fortunate to have Jack Pfister leading that effort, along with his colleagues on the Growing Smarter Commission. This summer the Commission met publicly around the state, and crafted a set of strong recommendations. This session I will ask you to pass a package of legislation based on their efforts. This action will show our citizens that we understand their demand for wise growth management. I want Growing Smarter to help limit sprawl in at least three ways:
- Provide citizens a real voice in community planning by giving them a vote on general plans.
- Require development to pay for itself.
- And, allow cities and counties to restrict services to areas within their self-determined limits.
Just looking at our incredible scenery in Arizona also tells us it is time for a conservation trust. Such a trust would allow the State Land Commissioner, under certain conditions, to set aside some of our spectacular landscape as open space. We all agree certain parcels of state trust land must be saved. A conservation trust will give us the means to do so.
You may be familiar with the other growth proposal, the Sierra Club Initiative. I believe that mandatory growth boundaries are bad public policy put into tasty sound bites. Such proposals would take away your local control with arbitrary limits, while doing little to ensure open space. And to my friends in Greater Arizona, remember my roots are in rural Arizona. Join with us, work with us. It's Growing Smarter that will allow us to solve Arizona problems with Arizona solutions.
A VISION FOR TRANSPORTATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY
We can't discuss growth without mentioning transportation and air quality. Since taking office, I have done everything possible to increase funding for statewide roads. As proof, highway project funding doubled in the past three years to almost $1 billion. Last year historic legislation accelerated highway construction throughout the state.
My Transportation Vision 21 Task Force is doing an excellent job. It's too soon to draw any firm conclusions, but I'd like to share some early observations. First, in spite of record spending on roads, it appears we will face a significant revenue shortfall in meeting Arizona's long-term transportation needs. Second, we must recognize that transportation and growth are interlocking issues. We must deal thoughtfully with both of them. Third, transportation is a statewide issue, not just a parochial or regional issue.
I believe the citizens of this state expect and deserve a more straightforward approach when spending our limited transportation dollars. Unfortunately, regional institutions involved with transportation sometimes look only at their own self-interest and change the rules of the game to fit their selfish needs. We need guidelines that don't change so that regional plans are not fragmented. I have instructed the Vision 21 Task Force to address the problem.
CLEARING THE AIR
Regarding air quality, we've made some positive strides. Recently, we completed our third consecutive year without a violation of the ozone standards. We continue to make progress in reducing a number of pollutants that plague the Valley. Beginning this year, Arizona took the lead in imposing the use of California phase 2 reformulated gasoline - the cleanest-burning fuel available. We took this step ourselves, we didn't need federal threats. We did it because it was the right thing to do. Although we have much to be proud of, we must continue to strive for better air quality for the sake of our citizens.
USING TOBACCO SETTLEMENT DOLLARS FOR HEALTH AND CHILDREN
Another important health issue is the best use of the tobacco settlement dollars. Everyone seems to have ideas for how to spend this money. Let's get all of them on the table where we can discuss them. But there is not enough money to do everything. Health care is my first priority for these funds. Senate President Burns is on the right track concerning a trust fund. Providing for Arizona's future is the right thing to do. But some of our immediate needs are so great they cannot wait. The Arizona State Hospital, for example. The hospital is now four weeks more desperate than when you met in December. I will take you at your word that you will immediately act on this critical issue.
We also have a pressing need for behavioral health care funding. As you know, we are still operating under the Arnold v. Sarn court order. The gap between current funding and needed funding must be closed. I have already proposed that one-third of the initial tobacco fund monies be dedicated to behavioral health needs.
The tobacco settlement dollars also provide us an opportunity to address our children's needs. We should expand the early intervention programs that we know work. Healthy Families and Health Start are proven winners. We also can make sure every child has health insurance and further implement our KidsCare program. For those skeptical about programs like KidsCare, consider this: we now have 26,000 children in our KidsCare program and we added another 24,000 to Title 19 programs. That means 50,000 children have new health care coverage, thanks to most of you in this chamber today.
I would like us to continue reaching out to Arizona's children in need. That's why I support legislation sponsored by Senators Grace, Solomon and others that will knock down the barriers that prohibit our schools from helping in this effort.
After children, our next priority should be rural and urban Arizonans who need help with medical care. We should consider expanding health care coverage for the working poor as well as look at how best to provide basic health services in the under served parts of the state.
We must also ensure that long-term care services are provided in safe settings by qualified caregivers. Rep. Sue Gerard's task force has taken the lead in finding workable solutions to resolve our long-term care needs. I commend this effort.
MAKING STATE GOVERNMENT WORK BETTER
People are cynical about state programs, but we can be proud of our programs that produce results. For example, we recently received a high performance bonus of $2.8 million from Washington, because we've been able to get people off welfare and into real jobs. Even better, these Arizonans are keeping their new jobs. We also are developing a "no wrong door" system that uses technology to link social service providers. Arizonans who need help will never again be told they've come to the wrong place. In fact, there won't be any such thing as the wrong office. All these agencies will be interconnected. Our successful Family Builders program uses this idea by linking state agencies to community-based organizations. When there is no immediate danger to children, Child Protective Services can refer families directly to the appropriate community-based organization without miles of government red tape. Thanks to Family Builders, we are responding to 100 percent of valid reports made to the child abuse hotline. In fiscal years 1998 and 1999, less than 1% of the families helped by Family Builders had a subsequent report of child abuse or neglect. The program is so successful it received one of only eight Innovation Awards presented by the Council of State Governments. We should thank the Department of Economic Security for its outstanding work on this program. And thank Senator David Peterson and Rep. Mark Anderson for their strong support.
My Office of Excellence in Government, or OEG, is providing valuable professional assistance to make state agencies more customer service-oriented. With OEG's help, agency services are becoming faster, simpler, more cost-effective and easier to access. Furthermore, OEG, under my direction, has published the first ever "Strategic Direction for State Government." This makes government more like business.
TURNING THE CORNER ON CRIME
Crime continues to be a stubborn challenge. Our citizens tell us it is a high priority. The good news is that our efforts against crime have finally started to pay off.
Communities throughout the state put more police officers where needed and we made sure that criminals, especially repeat offenders, are off the streets. Just as important, we are funding effective intervention programs. Because of our actions, violent crime in Arizona has dropped.
But there is still plenty to do, especially with our youth. I am including $5.2 million in my budget to "finish the job" of upgrading the deplorable conditions of our juvenile detention centers. Each center has educational and treatment facilities that are making a difference. Additional resources will help turn at-risk kids into kids with hope. We have also begun our ACTION Communities Initiative. ACTION stands for "Arizona's compact to improve our neighborhoods." It gives our citizens a real chance to take back their neighborhoods from crime. We are asking communities to prepare their own anti-crime strategies based on their own needs. We are providing $6 million in resources from existing programs to accomplish their goals and help turn neighborhoods around. It's a better way of doing business, a better way of sustaining safe communities.
Today, I have asked Otis and Lory Smith to be my guests. They are the parents of Shannon Smith. I know of no greater loss to any parent than the loss of a child. On that dark night, Shannon's life was senselessly taken by a random gunshot. Not only was a family devastated, a little part of each of us was lost. I urge you to pass Shannon's law. If it will deter even one random shot from being fired, it's worth our effort. It only took one shot to take Shannon.
In closing, I have a lot to be thankful for. We have a great family and wonderful grandchildren. As I look forward, I wonder how their lives will change in the century ahead. As a mother and a grandparent, I want all children to be able to live life to the fullest, to have the opportunities that we've had and to live the American dream. I want them to grow up with the fundamental values and character that have made this country great. I want them to be strong, self-reliant and caring. I want them to be honest citizens, committed to their state and to their nation. And I want them to know their future will be built on the strength of their family and their spiritual faith.
There is a Latin phrase, "It matters not what you are thought to be but what you are." I want all children to know who they are. I have three more years in this term to make a difference and I don't plan on wasting a moment. Let's begin our journey. Let's go to work.
Thank you and God bless Arizona.