Gov. Janet Napolitano signed six executive orders on the first day of her second term, toughening air-pollution regulations, creating a plan to improve long-term care facilities and adding a financing scheme for water projects.
Later, she used her State of the State address to call for fundamental change in the way Arizona grows, educates its children and prepares for the new economy.
In doing so, Napolitano answered questions about how she would govern in a second term. Her flurry of executive-order signings caught GOP legislative leaders by surprise. advertisement?
"Busy woman," House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, remarked after the address.
The maneuver was intentional, Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said. As was its not-so-subtle message.
"It's to make the point clearly: She wants action," L'Ecuyer said. "She doesn't want to wait on things she doesn't have to wait on."
Fresh off an impressive re-election win in November, the governor seemed ready to spend a little political capital. Among her executive orders, she moved to:
Formalize the creation of a Growth Cabinet with a mission to work with communities to create a smart-growth plan in the next 120 days. Communities that don't abide by guidelines could be blocked from receiving some state funding for roads and other needs.
Limit construction-related pollution on state land and bar the use on state property of leaf blowers and gas-powered mowers.
Implement a three-year plan to improve care in nursing homes and other long-term housing facilities, including ratings of the homes' quality on her Web site by July.
With her other three orders, Napolitano gave the Arizona Department of Transportation 90 days to present a list of mass-transit and rail options, laid out a low-interest financing scheme to provide dollars for water projects and directed the School Facilities Board to issue an Oct. 1 report for the construction of "21st-century schools."
Napolitano used her State of the State address to lay out a road map for handling pressures of rapid growth and economic shifts facing Arizona.
"I am pleased to tell you the state of our state is strong," Napolitano told lawmakers, dignitaries and others who gathered at the Capitol for her 43-minute address. "I believe this independent, confident, growing state of ours can be even stronger."
Education is at the top of her list.
Four years of math would be required for high school graduates, twice as much as the current standard, and three years of science.
An increase in the minimum dropout age to 18 from 16 was proposed.
Napolitano also asked for additional teacher pay raises on top of last year's.
Under her plan, the state would set a baseline salary of $33,000 for starting teachers, thousands more than teachers currently earn.
"Jobs require more students than ever to be prepared for high-skill professions," Napolitano said. "Arizona graduates need to be able to think through challenges and propose solutions that are creative and clear."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has been critical of the proposed math requirement but said he appreciates the governor's nod to improved teacher pay and school resources.
"On fundamental principles, we agree," said Horne, who sat in the front row during Napolitano's address. "On some of the details, we disagree."
The education revamp is part of Napolitano's hope to prepare for the future high-skill, high-tech, high-wages economy.
She described it as a transition from an economy "that relies on labor and sunshine to one that runs on innovation and knowledge."
Napolitano pledged additional funding for the biomedical campus in Phoenix, better use of a state fund to jump-start innovative businesses and more aggressive recruitment of international firms.
"We're going to take it on the road and to the air to bring business and foreign investment home," Napolitano said.
But where the governor saw a smart use of funds to better Arizona, critics saw a same old big-government approach.
Darcy Olsen, president and chief executive of the Goldwater Institute, called Napolitano's education reforms "fresh paint on an old jalopy."
"There was nothing that she didn't suggest a government solution to, from health care to child care to housing," she added.
Legislative leaders generally agreed with the governor's goals.
As always, the true test will be in the details.
"We're anxious to see how the governor intends to pay for all these items without raising taxes," Senate President Tim Bee, R-Tucson, said.
Indeed, Napolitano pledged to accomplish her objectives without raising taxes "one thin dime."
Staff reporters Mary Jo Pitzl, Amanda J. Crawford and Jessica Coomes contributed to this article.