Video: Water conservation takes central role in governor’s speech in Havasu
Gov. Doug Ducey appeared in Lake Havasu City Monday to give his State of the State address to an audience of Havasu, Bullhead City and Kingman officials, as well as the regional public, with a special emphasis on the Colorado River.
According to Ducey, the state of Arizona is strong, and it’s getting stronger. His speech led with a specific aspect of Havasu’s future growth — water, and Arizona’s involvement in the six-state Drought Contingency Plan.
”We’re off to a fast start in 2019,” Ducey said. “We talk about education every year, but we talk about water every 40 years. The last time we did anything regarding water in this state was the 1980 Ground Water Management Act. We faced a generational challenge to secure Arizona’s water future, and I stand here today incredibly grateful to everyone who came together to pass the Drought Contingency Plan.”
The Drought Contingency Plan was a necessary measure to prevent drought restrictions throughout the Southwest, requiring water conservation efforts and usage limitations on regional stakeholders. It was a decision that required compromise, coordination and recognition of both urban and rural areas of Arizona.
“This was about agriculture, homebuilders, construction and our tribal nations,” Ducey said. “This is not the end, this is just the beginning. I’ve signed an executive order to create a culture of water conservation in the state of Arizona. We know there’s always going to be more work to do regarding water. With future discussions ahead, let’s look at the contingency plan as a model we can follow. With that common goal in mind, I believe there’s no limit to what Arizona can achieve.”
The gathering took place at a luncheon hosted by the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce, at the London Bridge Resort Convention Center. Fresh from his November re-election, Ducey expressed his desire to inspire future growth in the Havasu region, whose stakeholders will be instrumental in Ducey’s conservation efforts for the Colorado River.
“I love it every time I come here,” Ducey said. “I love to hear about the state of the city, how strong it is and how representative Havasu is of our great state. I hope to continue working with you over the next four years for prosperity and opportunity for Lake Havasu City.”
According to Ducey, efforts toward ensuring statewide prosperity include pay increases for Arizona educators.
“We need a new generation of people to come to the head of the classroom,” Ducey said. “We’re going to significantly expand the Arizona Teacher’s Academy. This will allow more people who are committed to public schools in Arizona to graduate with a scholarship, and debt-free, and create the next generation of Arizona teachers.”
Benefitting from Ducey’s promotion of public schools will be Bullhead City Elementary School, Colorado City Unified School District and Kingman Unified School District; for which Ducey has authorized funding for new school buses.
Ducey also promoted his Arizona Safe Schools plan, which he described as a proactive approach toward ensuring students’ safety and reducing the risk of school shootings statewide. The plan would call for investing in mental and behavioral health resources at schools, creating a central tip line for reporting school safety concerns, restricting firearms access for students, enhancing background checks and increasing the presence of school resource officers at Arizona schools.
Job creation was another topic of Ducey’s speech, emphasizing the state’s Career and Technical Education opportunities, such as those provided at Mohave Community College.
“The state of Arizona has more jobs available than people to fill them,” Ducey said. “(Career and Technical Education) students become nurses, pilots, pharmacists, bankers, firefighters and software developers before graduation. Ninety-nine percent of CTE students graduate high school, and there are good programs here in Mohave County … No other state in the country leads the way on this. Arizona is one of the fastest growing states, and this is our mantle to grab and lead on. There’s a high demand for skilled workers in Arizona – if people want to work, let’s let them work.”
According to Ducey, the skilled technical workers produced by other states should be afforded opportunities of their own. About 100,000 people are expected to move to Arizona within the next year, Ducey said, and there’s a job available for each of them.
“Many are trained and certified in other states,” Ducey said. “Standing in the way of them earning a living in the state of Arizona are our own licensing boards and their cronies, who tell them, ‘you can’t work here. You haven’t paid the piper’. This session I’m urging legislators to pass a bill to grant universal recognition for all occupational licenses and let these people get to work.”
But opportunity should also be extended to inmates working in vocational training programs, he said.
“Arizona is a land of opportunity for all, and we want it to remain a land of opportunity for all,” Ducey said. “That includes people who have served their time and paid their debt to society. People will be leaving our state prisons with workforce skills before they’re released. This year we’ll increase our investment by $2 million in second chance programs to protect public safety and reduce Arizona’s prison populations.”
Ducey also said that opportunity should also be extended to public servants who protect Arizona residents as well. To that effect, Ducey announced his FY 2019-20 budget will offer raises to 40 percent of the state’s employees, including correctional officers, state troopers and public safety personnel.
Veterans will also receive assistance under the new budget, Ducey said, with $1 million in additional funding to bolster the Arizona Be Connected program, which serves veterans throughout the state.