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Mon, April 22

Napolitano set to begin second term

PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Janet Napolitano says improving education and taking other steps to handle Arizona's growth will be leading concerns during her second term.

Napolitano, a 49-year-old Democrat whose inauguration was scheduled today at the State Capitol, was re-elected Nov. 7 for another four years.

The inauguration's theme: "Reflecting on our past period, building for our future. One Arizona."

Napolitano's speech today was expected to outline general themes while the governor on Monday will spell out her 2007 legislative wish-list during her State of the State address to lawmakers when their annual session begins. Additional details will be released in the proposed state budget that she plans to release on Jan. 12.

Napolitano already has said she wants the state to improve math and science education, provide more financial aid for needy college and university students and bolster teacher pay and training. She also has targeted safeguarding water supplies and increasing access to health care for action along with expanding the state's transportation system, a priority shared with many Republican lawmakers who want to accelerate highway construction.

Napolitano said in a December interview with The Associated Press that she had told her staff there'd be no complacency during the second term.

"Nobody said we're entitled to these jobs. We've got to earn these jobs every day and lean forward in your chairs and let's go," Napolitano said. "That's word for word what I said."

Napolitano also said during the interview that she felt increased expectations.

"I think at the beginning of my first term, people didn't quite know how I was going to govern," she said. "There was a lot of skepticism about whether we'd get anything done, quite frankly, and I think the first term showed that we could get material things done and create a material sense of momentum. Now it's time to build on that."

Napolitano wrestled with GOP lawmakers over a tight budget in the first year but she later went on to win approval of several education initiatives, including all-day kindergarten and a medical school expansion, as well as prison expansion and child protection programs.

During her first term, Napolitano wrangled with many Republican lawmakers over state spending and immigration and border concerns. In the final year of her first term, she set single-year and career records for vetoes by Arizona governors. However, in 2006 she also agreed to a budget compromise that saw her let two small voucher programs - priorities for Republicans but anathema to her and most fellow Democrats - become law.

Republican lawmakers sued Napolitano twice to challenge line-item vetoes they regarded as unconstitutional. The Arizona Supreme Court deflected the first such challenge but ruled in the second that Napolitano had overstepped her bounds.

Napolitano said during the December interview that she hoped for a "new day" of improved relations with legislative Republicans now that the 2006 election is past. "I tend to want to take it on afresh," she said.

Napolitano defeated Republican Len Munsil by nearly 28 percentage points in the general election as she won overwhelming support from fellow Democrats and made strong inroads into the Republican electorate.

Before being elected governor in 2003, Napolitano served four years as state attorney general, an elected position. She previously served as U.S. attorney for Arizona during the 1990s as an appointee of President Clinton.


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