Wrap up with Doug Ducey

Gov. Doug Ducey faced a new conundrum this legislative session: Where to best spend available state dollars.

Rachel Leingang//June 2, 2017

Wrap up with Doug Ducey

Gov. Doug Ducey faced a new conundrum this legislative session: Where to best spend available state dollars.

Rachel Leingang//June 2, 2017

Gov. Doug Ducey
Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Gov. Doug Ducey faced a new conundrum this legislative session: Where to best spend available state dollars.

In the end, Ducey got nearly everything he wanted – slightly more money for teachers, a huge university bonding plan and several controversial education programs like universal vouchers and performance funding for schools.

He also flirted with the idea of negotiating with Democrats on a budget plan when Republicans initially didn’t line up to support his initiatives, though the GOP ranks eventually coalesced around his spending priorities after some pot-sweeteners came into the mix.

You seem to have struck a “compassionate conservatism” tone this year. Where is that coming from? And how much of it plays into next year’s election? What’s the impetus?

Right at the beginning, we talked about opportunity for all. And I think many of our most affluent citizens have enjoyed and experienced a lot of opportunity. So, I’m always thinking: How do we help those that are the most vulnerable, those that are on the first rung of the economic ladder, those that are in a school where they’re not learning what they should be learning? So, I think the theme has been consistent. It’s just we’re in a different position today. Three years ago, we didn’t have any money in the state. We had a one billion dollar deficit.

Was it easier to cut spending or add spending?

When you don’t have any money, the decisions are difficult, but clearer. When there are available dollars, there’s competing interests as to what people would like to do.

You signed a couple bills that led to referenda. Does that mean those were bad bills? Do you intend to defend them if they come to the ballot?

Let’s see what comes to the ballot. I think election season can be way too long. Whenever you sign a bill or veto a bill, some people are happy, some people are upset. I’d rather see what’s in front of us before I make comments on that. People are certainly welcome to participate in the constitutional process and bring things to the ballot and participate in the election cycle.

This year’s budget focused on education. Do you think the state is doing enough to fund and support education? And if not, what would enough look like?

I think the state needs to do more on education. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past two years… I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction. We also have some evidence that we’re getting results and outcomes… This is a state responsibility. This is a primary focus of this administration. It’s something the governor can lead on and it’s something we intend to do more of.

You’ve been called the education governor. What do you think of that moniker?

I wake up every day and think about education. My campaign was built on bringing our economy back and improving K-12 education and focusing on the reputation of the state. This is never going to be a box on our administration’s agenda that you can check off and move on from.

Your national profile also continues to grow, with some prominent conservatives writing about you recently. Does that mean you’re going to be leaving Arizona anytime soon?

I love Arizona, and I plan on staying in Arizona.


Yes. I wasn’t born here, but I plan to die here. I love it. My wife is a native. I just think we live in the best state with the best quality of life… I’m thoroughly enjoying myself and trying to do my best on behalf of the citizens of the state of Arizona.

Which group is worse: out-of-state special interests that run ballot measures or trial lawyers who sue the state?

They’re equally bad.

What’s the most underrated bill that you signed this year?

I think the teacher accreditation bill is the most underrated bill that I signed this year… I think there are a lot of people with a lot of talent and experience in our state that would like to help kids at the K-12 level.

One of your vetoes, on student journalists, struck a negative chord with some. Do kids not get full First Amendment protection until they’re 18?

Kids have full protection under the First Amendment. The First Amendment applies to everyone in our country. This was a bill that, while it may have had good intentions, was written to solve a problem that happened over 20 years ago. Today, we have social media. We have Facebook. We have Twitter. We have Instagram. If a kid wants to get a message out to the student body, there’s plenty of ways for them to do that. We didn’t need to pass another law to allow them to do that.

You really like the sharing economy. Do you ever take Ubers in your real life? Or have you ever stayed at an Airbnb?

I used to take Ubers in my real life. I don’t take a lot of Uber today because I’ve got these terrific individuals from the Department of Public Safety who drive me around. But I used Uber before that. I think it provides a lot of convenience to citizens and to families. My wife is a fan of Airbnb. I’m more of a hotel guy.

Do you ever get used to people being around you or yelling at you all the time in press huddles? Because you were just a normal person before becoming governor.

I think I still am a normal person. I do my best. I will say dealing with the press has been the biggest learning curve coming from the private sector into entering public life.

I recently found out that you use emojis when you text people. What’s your favorite emoji?

I probably use the smiley face, thumbs up and American flag. They’re tied for top three.