HH: We were talking about the border and the G-7 Summit in the first segment. But over the past few weeks, sadly, school violence has come again and again to this desk. There’s one governor in America many observers of both left and right think is among the country’s most effective governors. He’s Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, and he joins me this morning from Phoenix. Governor, good morning, I wanted to talk to you because after Parkland, after that massacre, you started doing things in Arizona before the Santa Fe attack and catastrophe. And I want people to know about the Safe Arizona Schools project. What was that, Governor? Has it gained the necessary momentum, yet?
DD: Good morning, Hugh, and thanks for having me. And yes, I thought why can’t we do something proactively? Why do all these programs and plans come in reaction to a tragedy? And is there something we can do in the state of Arizona that would prevent and avoid a mass shooting? So I brought students together, parents, superintendents, principals, teachers, law enforcement leaders, prosecutors and other elected officials and said what does school safety look like, and what can we do to improve here? And we put together a five point plan, the most important part being the STOP order – the Severe Threat Order of Protection, so when you have a young person like the people that have committed these atrocities, that we can go out and actually stop them. Look at the signals that were given off in the Parkland shooting – of 39 visits from law enforcement, being identified by name to the FBI, posting on YouTube that you planned to be known as a school shooter. And yet, law enforcement could do nothing. So if we are able to pass the STOP order in the state of Arizona, we will be able to prevent and avoid that, and I think it’s a model that other governors can take and reapply in their states.
HH: Now you got the National Rifle Association to actually endorse STOP orders as well as educators, community leaders, parents and some students. Why hasn’t it happened, yet, in Arizona?
DD: This had support across the board from the citizens of Arizona, and then politics intervened. When you get the Democrat leadership, and even the Republican leadership, often times it hasn’t been about the solutions and what we can do inside the schools. We were able to do some good things in terms of population of the background checks. So if somebody is adjudicated with mental health issues or severe violence and dangerous felons, make sure that those names are on the background check, get dollars for behavioral mental health so there can be counselors inside the school. But the real tool that can be helpful in the rare cases where there is an individual that everyone’s aware of and is scared of, that’s the Severe Threat protection order, that’s the STOP order.
HH: Right. Now I would like, about the STOP orders, when you went up to the National Governors Association, did you find any other takers for putting out STOP orders?
DD: Well, when I had the National Governors Association, this plan was actually written in response to hearing testimony from Rick Scott in Florida and Matt Bevin in Kentucky and now Gregg Abbott in Texas. So this is something that’s available to all governors, Democrat and Republican across the country. But it is something you have to work with your legislature, both Democrat and Republican, to pass, and it’s something we intend to do in the state of Arizona.
HH: All right, two other aspects about education before I move to the border, Governor. You campaigned originally on civics education. You got that passed. Now, you’re out there promoting school pay raises for teachers. How’s this coming from the Republican governor?
DD: Well, we were the first state in the nation to pass the American Civics Act. So this is any student that graduates from an Arizona high school will have passed the same test that a new naturalized citizen has passed. It’s basic civics, you know, the separation of powers, three branches of government, all the things that we know and we learn through osmosis and coaches and teachers and scoutmasters when we were kids that are not being tested in school today. And Arizona schools are improving faster than any other schools in the nation in math and reading, so our teachers have earned and deserved this raise. We have not raised taxes in the state of Arizona. In fact, we’ve lowered taxes the last three years. But we have a growing economy, and we’ve been able to get resources to our teachers who have earned this raise.
HH: Now the New York Times did a story about civics education this week. We just put it up on the screen for people to see so that this is not just an Arizona issue. I want to know if the other governors have said okay, we actually have to get back to basics, and I don’t mean film strips of how a bill becomes law. I mean actually teaching people what it means to be an informed citizenry.
DD: So the American Civics Act is a great place to start. It’s on our website, AZGovernor.gov. I think 24 other states have adopted this. I had Jane Nixon, the Democratic governor of Missouri, was my partner in rolling this out at the National Governors Association. This is something that every citizen, whether they’re Democrat, independent or Republican, should want our young people to know.
DD: And I’d encourage everyone to go take the American Civics Act test for yourself and see how you score.
HH: I’m not sure everyone’s going to run out and do that this morning. I hope they do. Governor, let me talk a little bit, we were just talking about trade and the border. And I am a critic of the President’s policy of separating children from parents at the border. You’re a border state governor who has to deal with two things – one, illegal entry which is a problem, but also trade, which is welcome. How are you balancing these two competing interests, especially in the age of narco-trafficking, international gangs, of fentanyl that is flowing over the border, and at the same time, you need to get those crossings and those trucks coming?
DD: Well, I want to say unequivocally I’m for border security. Border security is national security. Nowhere else has this affected a state more than in the state of Arizona. We’ve been the epicenter of this discussion over the last decade. So we’re working very closely with Homeland Security, Kirstjen Neilsen, Secretary John Kelly when he was leading the agency, in terms of making sure we have this border security. And they’ve been very responsive. We’ve got the National Guard on the border as we speak. At the same time, I believe in trade. Mexico is our largest trading partner X 4. I’m working with Governor Claudia Pavlovich in our sister state of Sonora to make sure that we have safety at the ports, but that the good guys, the trucking, the transit, the tourism, the trade that is growing Arizona and America’s economy can get back and forth over the border not being impeded. We work on a cargo processing check so these trucks are checked before they arrive at the border. They’re deemed safe, and these perishable items can be delivered.
HH: All right, now the big question is in an era of under 4% unemployment, Doug Ducey, what is it like in Arizona? How do you keep growth going when you haven’t got enough people? There are more vacancies in the United States than there are people looking for work. I’m sure that’s true in Arizona. What are you doing about that?
DD: Well, we always have an opportunity, I think, to grow our economic pie. Even though we’re proud that our unemployment is at the lowest rate in the last decade, we still have a hundred thousand plus Arizonans that are unemployed, that are being paid by our federal government to stay home and be idle. We want to move these people into the workforce. We want to work with Health and Human Services to give governors more latitude. So when someone’s down on their luck, we can provide them a paycheck, but two weeks later, let’s provide them a tool belt. We have houses to frame and drywall to hang, and we need electricians and welders and plumbers, and there’s all kinds of things in the skilled trade that we can take those that are not participating in the workforce and move them into the workforce. I think that would be a great place to start.
HH: All right, last question, Governor, Josh Kraushaar just mentioned California had its elections. As I recall, lots of Californians are picking up and leaving the Golden State for your state. Is that continuing?
DD: We are having an influx of people from California coming to the state of Arizona. We welcome them to the state of Arizona. I just ask them to remember that they left California for a reason. But we’ve had over 200,000 people relocate to the state of Arizona in the last 36 months. Where I’m doing this hit from is a studio in Maricopa County. Maricopa County is the fastest growing county in the country, and there’s 3,144 counties and parishes in this country. It’s something we’re proud of. It’s a testament to what a great quality of life we have here and the economic attractiveness, and how inviting and welcoming Arizona is as a state.
HH: It always welcomes me. Thank you, Governor Doug Ducey, getting up early and joining me this morning.
DD: Thank you, Hugh.
End of interview.