- Associated Press - Monday, January 8, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) - The Latest on the opening day of the Arizona Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey’s state of the state address. (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey says he wants to restore some of the cuts to education that were put in place nearly a decade ago during the Great Recession.

The governor said during Monday’s state of the state address that he wants to restore cuts to one section of the cash flowing to schools known as “formula funding.” That money is based on the number of students and a variety of other factors.

The Republican is under pressure from education advocates in a year he is seeking re-election to restore the cash. He didn’t say how much money he’ll ask for when his budget proposal is released later this week.

Restoring all the cuts likely couldn’t happen in just one year given Ducey’s vow not to raise taxes, but the goal is to accelerate investment in public K-12 schools. Some of the money will come from cash freed up by his agency directors during a review of spending he ordered last year.


2:20 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants the Legislature to fast-track a proposal to address the opioid epidemic in the state.

The governor said during Monday’s state of the state address that he plans to call the Legislature into a special session this month to push through his proposal.

The legislation he wants hasn’t been released but it is expected to include a limit on the first fill of narcotic drugs from doctors and dentists and adds tools for prosecutors targeting doctors, manufacturers and illicit drug dealers.

The governor called an opioid emergency in June and the state Health Services Department put in place real-time overdose reporting rules. Between June 15 and Dec. 28, 2017, the department tracked more than 4,900 suspected overdoses and 716 suspected deaths.


12:30 p.m.

Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard is calling for an end to sexual harassment at the state Capitol and apologizing to women who felt unsafe.

Monday’s comments from the Republican speaker came on the opening day of the 2018 session in advance of Gov. Doug Ducey’s state of the state address.

Mesnard said he was disheartened by reports of harassment in the House that led to an ongoing investigation and a possible ethics probe of at least one member. Rep. Don Shooter has been stripped of a committee chairmanship while the investigation progresses.

Mesnard is calling for all men to act like gentlemen and treat all women like they would like their wives or mothers to be treated.

He says the issue is not partisan or political, but “a matter of right and wrong.”


3 a.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is set to deliver his fourth state of the state address and outline his policy proposals for the 2018 legislative session.

Monday’s speech on the session’s opening day comes as the Republican governor faces ongoing pressure to boost funding for the state’s K-12 schools as he prepares a re-election run.

Per pupil state funding for Arizona public schools is among the lowest in the nation and teacher pay is also at or near the bottom. Several thousand education advocates marched at the Capitol over the weekend.

Ducey says he’s pushed to increase spending by $700 million since 2015 and that more will come this year.

He’s also expected to propose a crackdown on opioids, a state water policy overhaul and new initiatives to rehabilitate prison inmates.

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