By Associated Press - Monday, January 9, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on the opening of the Arizona Legislature’s 2017 session (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

Gov. Doug Ducey wants to start giving Arizona teachers a raise and even signing bonuses.

The Republican governor says his budget plan that will be released Friday will include an increase in spending on public schools. He says that includes raises for teachers and a $1,000 signing bonus for new educators in poor districts. In addition, the governor wants more money to pay for full-day kindergarten.

Education spending has emerged again as a key issue in Arizona after schools suffered severe cuts during the recession. That prompted a lengthy court fight that was settled last year when voters approved a proposition to provide $3.5 billion from the land trust for schools.

Ducey’s speech did not provide specifics on how he would pay for the changes but details are expected to emerge in his upcoming budget.


2:35 p.m.

Gov. Doug Ducey is outlining his vision for Arizona in his State of the Speech address whose theme focuses on creating “boundless” opportunities for residents.

The Republican governor has said previously that he wants education spending to be a top priority in the 2017 Legislature, along with cutting people’s income taxes.

The governor started off the speech by focusing on Arizona’s political success stories - “regular people who had mountains in their way, but scaled them.” He singled out former Govs. Raul Castro and Rose Mofford and Rep. Marthy McSally as examples of Arizonans who broke barriers to become successful.

Ducey says the next generation of leaders is counting on Arizona lawmakers to create new opportunities for them.


12:40 p.m.

The Arizona Legislature has convened its 2017 session and the House and Senate have formally elected new leaders for the session.

The Senate voted Monday to name Sen. Steve Yarbrough as president. The House elected Rep. J.D. Mesnard as speaker. Both are Republicans.

The elections happened after the 30 senators and 60 representatives were sworn in by Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales.

Lawmakers are set to convene a joint session to hear Gov. Doug Ducey present his third state of the state address.


11:40 p.m.

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey plans to deliver a broader and longer state of the state speech when the Legislature convenes.

The governor’s office says Monday’s speech will near an hour in length, compared to 40 minutes last year and a just short of a half hour in his first year in office in 2016.

Ducey plans to present a policy agency his office says is focused on creating opportunity and helping the most vulnerable. He signaled some of those priorities in pre-session interviews, including new effort to help people with substance abuse problems and to help people released from prison reintegrate to the community.

He’s also promising more money for K-12 teachers and reforms while focusing cash on low-income schools and neighborhoods and rural and tribal school.

Ducey is set to give the address at 2 p.m. before a joint session of the Arizona Senate and House.


11:15 a.m.

Minority Democrats in the Arizona Legislature are laying out their priorities as a counter to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s agenda.

Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs says Democrats will work to prioritize programs and services that polls show voters overwhelmingly support.

She and House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said in advance of Ducey’s state of the state speech Monday that special interest tax cuts have left state agencies and K-12 schools and universities strapped for funding.

They want to push sentencing and corrections reform and use that cash to fund teacher pay. They also want welfare cuts restored, child care help for poor families and to protect Medicaid expansion.

They also want reviews of existing tax breaks to ensure they’re actually creating jobs.


3 a.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is set to lay out his 2017 policy goals as lawmakers gather for the start of the legislative session.

Monday’s session opening will be mainly pomp and circumstance as lawmakers formally take office and hold a joint session of the House and Senate - until Ducey steps to the podium for his scheduled 2 p.m. speech. Then all eyes will be on the Republican governor as he rolls out his agenda for the session.

Ducey is expected to focus heavily on education a year after he persuaded voters to approve a school finding law settling a long-running lawsuit filed by K-12 school districts. Other top issues are likely to be addiction treatment and prison recidivism. A voter approved minimum wage boost also has the governor’s attention.

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