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Gov. Jan Brewer lay outs 2013 goals to Legislature

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm •  Published: January 14, 2013
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On Medicaid, Brewer told lawmakers that virtually all of the expansion would be funded by the federal government.

Brewer has previously opposed the federal health care law known as the Affordable Care Act, citing worries over a potential overreliance on federal funding. A provision of the 2010 law allows for states to increase Medicaid coverage.

The governor told lawmakers that expanding Medicaid would help poor Arizonans and help hospitals and caregivers who now must give care without pay. An estimated 300,000 more Arizonans would be eligible for the state's version of Medicaid under the full expansion.

Brewer plans to release a budget proposal on Friday, and she said the plan would include a provision tying some new school funding to performance.

The state has already enacted rules requiring schools to focus on core standards and to identify students having difficulty reading by the 3rd grade. But she said one in four third-graders can't read at grade level, and it's no coincidence that one in four students drops out of high school.

So Brewer said she's proposing a comprehensive performance funding plan for school districts and charter schools. The plan would augment per-student funding with an innovative approach to promoting school performance, she said.

On the hot-button of immigration that has put Arizona in the forefront nationally in the past several years, Brewer said she didn't support comprehensive immigration reform — at least for now.

"To the reformers, I say, demonstrate your stated commitment to a secure border by making that your first priority," she said. "Once our border is secure, I pledge to work with all fair-minded people to reform our nation's immigration laws."

Brewer, who has battled the federal government on several issues since taking office, said she wants the state to have a bigger role in overseeing federal lands, which make up more than a third of the state's approximately 114,000 square miles of land.

She created a state natural resources review council by executive order Monday, charging its members with creating a plan to maintain public access, multiple use and economic development.

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Associated Press writers Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington contributed to this report.