Arizona's Democrats and Republicans listened intently to the sixth state of the state address delivered Monday by Gov. Doug Ducey.
Ducey's address was praised by Republicans and business groups, and the governor found some common ground with Democrats on issues like mental health services and closing a prison. On other issues, like whether to fund education via new taxes, Democrats made clear they don't agree.
Ducey said he would not allow new taxes during the legislative session to make Arizona a state "not just open for business — we're open for opportunity — for everyone."
Ducey pledged to keep cutting red tape and additionally rescinded 23 previous executive orders which will eliminate 18 boards and commissions.
"I've issued a new executive order, with a new reform. If the government ever deems a new regulation absolutely necessary it must first identify three others to eliminate," Ducey said.
"This was a very Republican speech, the past couple state of the states he was very, it was very appealing to the Democratic caucus as well," House Assistant Minority Leader. Rep. Randy Friese said, according to AZPM News.
Ducey made points to expand access to mental health services. Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, told The Arizona Republic that this is "one thing a lot of us have been advocating for a very long time."
Rep. Rich Andrade, D-Glendale, responded to the governor touting the state's strong economy by saying that if the "rising economy has increased wages, than why are AZ Working Families working 2-3 jobs and many teachers leaving the teaching profession."
In the Senate, Democratic leaders released a white paper with House colleagues titled the "Blueprint for a Better Arizona 2020" before the opening gavel of the new session.
The document outlined the legislative principals of the caucuses, including measures to reform healthcare, prioritize infrastructure development, protect voting rights, and criminal justice reform.
In his address, Ducey said he intends to close a correctional facility in Florence and will relocate the inmates, including those on death row, to other facilities.
A notable change is the rebranding of the state's prison system. The new "Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry" will serve as a moniker to speak more to the agency's mission, according to Ducey.
The governor failed to provide a position on sentencing reform — a concept lauded by a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers.
Education advocates this week also introduced the 2020 iteration of the Invest In Ed ballot proposal that would add a 3.5 percent tax surcharge on high-income earners across the state.
Ducey promised a commitment to education funding this year, while simultaneously remaining adamant that he will not support new tax increase — including the Invest In Ed ballot measure.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) was one of the many groups to applaud Ducey's pro-business rhetoric.
"Small-business owners are thrilled to hear that despite record state revenues, our governor will not be going on a spending spree with our taxpayer dollars," said Chad Heinrich, NFIB's Arizona director.