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Tom sizes up Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State speech

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After listening to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's State of the State address last week, some people who had not voted for Ducey (and never will) were oddly encouraged by some of the points he raised and proposals he made. One friend of mine went so far as to suggest that Ducey might be tacking toward the center. Even if it's out of some sort of political pragmatism, any leftward movement should be welcomed.

Well, pardon my skepticism. It reminds me of how some of my liberal friends were gushing recently about the stance taken by Fox's Tucker Carlson, who came out sharply against the actions taken by Donald Trump vis a vis Iran. I had to remind them that Carlson doesn't want the U.S. bogged down in the Middle East when (he believes) that the money and manpower could be put to better use keeping the brown people away from our southern border. Carlson, who makes racist and anti-Semitic statements on the air on an almost-daily basis, has not all of a sudden become a Good Guy because he disagrees with (what passes for) Trump's Iranian policy. In this particular instance, Carlson simply has different (dark-skinned) fish to fry.

Likewise, Doug Ducey is not all of a sudden a middle-of-the-roader and he will NEVER, EVER, EVER be the Education Governor simply because he wants to give Arizona's public schools back the money that was stolen from them by ideologues and teacher haters more than a decade ago under the pretense of cost-cutting during an economic downturn. That's not magnanimous or forward-thinking. It's political ass-covering. I'm sure that the schools will take the money, perchance to buy books that were made in the 21st century, But the terms "Arizona Republicans" and "public education" still go together like mustard and shoe polish.

While some right-wing talk-show hosts consider the governor to be a bit squishy, there is no doubt that he still worships the Oozing Putrescence on the 14th Green and will govern accordingly. If he does do something that appeals to Democrats and Independents, it's more like a blind squirrel finding a nut rather than an attempt to govern in an attempt to serve all of his constituents.

As for some of his other areas of focus:

State funding for AP exams for needy students. This certainly seems like something we can all get behind and, if it stays the way it was initially presented, I'm all for it. Passing an AP test can get a kid college credit and give that kid a head start on college. But this isn't Los Angeles Garfield High and Arizona is unlikely to stand and deliver. According to the Arizona Legislature, a "needy" kid is one who can be used as a pawn to enrich private and charter school operators while simultaneously giving public school teachers the middle finger. The people who run BASIS don't need any more taxpayer money with which to buy another condo in Manhattan.

Restoring funds taken from schools more than 10 years ago. Well, it's about damn time. And, considering inflation and interest, it's not even a full restoration. But things are certainly better than they were before the #RedForEd movement made state lawmakers have a different kind of movement as they crapped their collective pants. (I still think that the lawmakers who illegally cut the school funding back then in direct violation of the State Constitution should have faced some legal consequences.)

Prisons. Ducey wants to close down the state prison at Florence, saying that it would take $275 million to make repairs at the aging facility. Some of the 4,000 inmates at Florence would be transferred to private (for-profit) prisons...WHICH SHOULD NOT EXIST ANYWHERE IN AMERICA!

He also wants to rename the prison system, calling it the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. Or maybe the Department of Useless Euphemisms By Any Other Name.

One good thing is that correction officers will get a raise and they're finally getting around to fixing the locks on the prison doors so we no longer will have to watch those ghastly videos of prisoners just walking out of their cells to attack unsuspecting guards.

Sanctuary Cities. Ducey wants to waste space in the Arizona Constitution by putting a ban on sanctuary cities on the November ballot. Arizona law already prohibits communities from blocking police and other local authorities from cooperating with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). But now Ducey and others want Arizona's voters to enshrine it in the Constitution, making Arizona officially and forever a Red(neck) State.

Just a couple months ago, Tucson voters overwhelmingly voted down a proposal to make the Old Pueblo a sanctuary city and they were probably wise to have done so. The idea of a sanctuary city is dumb to begin with and the fact that it can lead to a loss of sorely needed funds makes it even dumber.

One thing that really bothered me was Ducey said nothing substantial about water. The old saying that in the West, whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over is becoming more true every day. With aquifers drying up, the Colorado River underperforming, and Arizona's population booming, Ducey is going to have to get to a point where he looks at water-guzzling agriculture with an all-business-is-good-business crooked smile on his face.

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