In her State of the State address earlier this afternoon, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer expressed her continued optimism about the direction of Arizona’s economy, and called for increased competition in the realms of job creation and education.
“We have just celebrated all of the achievements of Arizona’s first 100 years, and we were reminded of Arizona’s five C’s – copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate,” Brewer said in the opening minutes of her speech. “I am here to tell you that our second century will hinge on another C – competition… Today, Arizona must compete for the most desirable jobs for our citizens, the finest teachers in our schools, the most talented students and faculties in our universities.”
While the commentary was met with resounding applause by the packed house floor of the Westin La Paloma, there was a lone audience member clapping when Brewer touched on another subject – that of her surrendering push against the Affordable Health Care Act, and an agreement to a large expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, a key component of President Barack Obama’s health care reform.
Democrats have largely supported the decision, while Republicans have remained confused, or in opposition to Brewer’s stance, some saying she has abandoned her own party.
Still, Brewer claims there is logic behind the decision, and says it is the result of a mere lack of options given the current President and Senate majority.
“Try as we might, the law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Brewer. “The President was re-elected, and his party controls the U.S. Senate. In short, the Affordable Health Care Act isn’t going anywhere – at least not for the time being.”
By agreeing to expand the state’s Medicaid program, Brewer said Arizonans will see certain advantages, including: protecting rural and safety-net hospitals from being pushed to the brink by their growing costs in caring for the uninsured, taking advantage of the enormous economic benefits by injecting $2 billion into the economy – saving and creating thousands of jobs – and lastly, providing health care to hundreds of thousand of low income Arizonans.
Brewer said a refusal of the plan would only mean Arizona’s tax dollars are instead used to provide health care for citizens in other states.
Brewer also addressed another issue that has fallen under the state spotlight – that of Arizona’s neglected and abused children. Brewer announced that her executive budget, to be released on Friday, will add 150 Child Protective Services caseworkers, while also boosting foster care, adoption services, and emergency placement of children needing rescue.
“We cannot strike evil from the hearts of those who would harm an innocent child,” said Brewer. “But these common sense steps will help at-risk children get the assistance they need before it’s too late.”
Those children, said Brewer, should also be entitled to the finest education options to ensure a prosperous future.
“To enable our schools to keep pace with global competition, we’re raising standards and increasing accountability for students, schools, and teachers,” said Brewer. “Everyone knows that global competition for jobs has changed. Our schools must keep pace. Our new Common Core standards are benchmarked to the top education measures in the world. If Arizona schools are doing the job, we’ll know about it – and so will parents.”
Despite the heated debate of gun control, spurred by the latest mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Brewer did not touch on the subject, though the transcript from her speech in Phoenix on Monday does in fact address the shooting.
Brewer called for the continued use of School Resource Officers, which she said has a proven track record. Brewer said her budget will compensate for more funding for these officers.