Just because the fuel crisis is over, the gasoline issue isn’t solved.
Gov. Janet Napolitano spoke about the state’s recent struggle with fuel and other topics with more than 900 elected leaders Thursday at the annual League of Arizona Cities and Towns conference in Paradise Valley.
"What it revealed is a vulnerability in our infrastructure,’’ the governor said. "And, it turns out, it’s not our only vulnerability."
Natural gas and water are two other resources that she said concerns her. To deal with them, Napolitano appointed Robert Lavinia, former president of Tosco Marketing Co., to lead a new committee to advise her on how to avert another crisis.
The gasoline crunch also ties into the state’s homeland security operations and improving public safety, she said. Arizona’s actions regarding the gasoline crisis and recent wildfire catastrophes requires some of the same tactics as would a terrorist event, she said.
Leaders who attended the event at Marriott’s Camelback Inn welcomed news that Napolitano, who anticipates the state’s budget deficit to continue in 2005, plans to leave the state-shared tax revenue and funding for education intact. She also told the group that she plans to propose changes so that Child Protective Services can retain its employees.
Because state economic vitality is connected to better academic achievement, Napolitano said she intends to propose legislation this fall for better early learning for all-day kindergarten or prekindergarten. Napolitano said she would like to see Arizona children ready to read before first grade.
"That is the investment that will ultimately pay off in some many different ways," she said.
Forest health is another priority. Napolitano said she will lobby at the national level so that the Forest Service could be fully funded for thinning projects to protect Arizona’s 125 communities within forest areas.
Napolitano added that with the help of the state’s prison inmates, Arizona has thinned more trees in the Tonto National Forest during the past two months than the U.S. Forest Service cut there last year.
"This is a great job for them," she said. "One of the things we want to do with our inmate population is to get them used to working so that when they leave the prison setting, they are working."
The league is a nonpartisan, nonprofit and voluntary organization made up of 87 municipalities throughout Arizona. It provides training, conferences, technical assistance and legislative advocacy to its members.