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Brewer takes oath for full term
PHOENIX — Jan Brewer began her second term as governor Monday by detailing the mess she said she inherited and what she's done and doing about it.
“When I took the oath of office two years ago, I took the helm of a marvelous state that had been poorly commanded, badly navigated and was dead in the water. Worse, it was leaking, and sinking fast.''
The governor said when she took over from Janet Napolitano, who quit to become Homeland Security chief in the Obama administration, she faced $5 billion in deficits over a two-year period “and a federal government whose unfunded mandates and sweetheart deals were stealing Arizona's freedom and threatening to bankrupt our state.''
Brewer said she restored “fiscal discipline'' to the state and made deep cuts to education that she said were done “without harm to education and public safety.''
And the governor said she is fixing the problems by creating the quasi-public Arizona Commerce Authority to help create more jobs.
“You and I, will be forever guided and sustained by God's grace in a calling that draws us together on this mighty ship — Arizona — now fit for any peril on the sea,'' Brewer said.
The assessment of the improvement drew derision from incoming Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe.
“I didn't realize, and I don't think that most people in the state have realized what Jan Brewer has apparently realized, that the ship is righted and apparently everything is hunky-dory, all is well in Arizona,'' he said. “I don't think the thousands of unemployed Arizonans would agree with Jan Brewer's assertion that everything is OK.''
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, Schapira's counterpart in the House, said the governor spent a lot of time talking about blame.
“There wasn't a lot of detail, a lot of planning for how we're going to move forward,'' he said. “I think we need to stop looking in the past. And I hope that the governor and Republican leadership has a plan.''
After her speech, however, Brewer said she wasn't specifically blaming Napolitano. “I'm talking about history,'' she told Capitol Media Services.
“The bottom line is we've known we've had a ship that has been not floating very well, to say the least, sunk. We've already begun the Arizona comeback and we will continue to do that.''
As to specifics, Brewer said those will have to wait. “Once I give my State of the State (speech) and get my budget out, we'll have a blueprint, we can move forward.”
But the governor gave a hint that one place she intends to focus is on the state's university system. And she hinted that further spending cuts are on the horizon.
“We will have ... a university system that is as prudent with its expenses as it is lavish with its time investing in undergraduates,'' she said.
University of Arizona President Robert Shelton, who attended Monday's speech, said he is prepared to do more with less. He said the UA will continue to “hire good people, make sure you keep them there, and they work like crazy.''
Shelton said he anticipates placing more of the financial burden on students. “I think tuition will always continue to go up. The key is to keep it manageable and provide a lot of financial aid.''
He said that, despite the hikes of the last few years, the average student debt on graduation has remained constant during the last few years.
“Over half of our students graduate with no debt,'' said Shelton. “So you've got to get the message out that it's not the total cost, it's the net cost to everybody.''
During her speech of close to just seven minutes, Brewer made only a glancing reference to the issue of illegal immigration, couching it instead as part of the broader fight between Arizona and the federal government.
“We've set in place historic education reforms and we've become a national leader in the fight) for border security and against Obamacare.
“We will have a border region, and beyond, that works. It will be one that is both safe and accessible and enhances the competitiveness and quality of life for Arizona and Mexico.''
The governor also indicated she intends to continue a moratorium on most new state regulations she imposed at her first inaugural two years ago. She has said the regulations are a drag on creation of new business.
“When we have fulfilled our calling here, we intend to leave Arizona with a budget that is balanced. fueled by private enterprise, unencumbered by heavy regulations and unnecessary rules,'' Brewer said.