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Gov. Jan Brewer abolished Child Protective Services by executive order on Monday, replacing it with a cabinet-level position reporting directly to her.

Brewer revealed her action in her State of the State speech, saying it was a first step in what she called "our immediate challenge" in transforming the system.

Her action came less than two months after state officials revealed that CPS in the last four years had set aside more than 6,500 reports of child abuse and protection without investigating them.

"Our child protection system is broken," Brewer said in her speech before a joint session of the Legislature. " ... enough with lack of transparency and enough with excuses."

"This morning, I signed an executive order that abolishes CPS as we know it and establishes a new division of child services as a cabinet level position that reports to me," she said. "And I have asked Charles Flanagan to serve as that director."

Flanagan, who has been head of the state Department of Juvenile Corrections, is head of a task force appointed by Brewer to handle the thousands of uninvestigated cases.

She called on the Legislature to create a new permanent children's agency that can take on the task of making certain that the state's children are protected.

"Child safety must be our top priority," she said.

In what was her final State of the State speech - she will complete her second term in one year and cannot seek a third under the state Constitution - Brewer grew emotional as she praised those who came before and those who will follow as stewards of the state.

In turning to education, Brewer called it one of her top priorities, including creation of what she called "student success funding," a performance-based funding plan for the K-12 system. She said little else about it, but is expected to include details in her budget proposal, to be released Friday.

Brewer called on the Arizona Board of Regents to ensure a reasonable level of tuition for state residents attending one of Arizona's three public universities.

"I am asking the Board of Regents to create a policy and a system that allows for stable tuition levels for the four years it takes a student to graduate," she said to strong applause.

On other topics, the governor:

  • Praised the wrapup last week of a settlement in a 33-year-old case challenging the state's funding of behavioral health care as inadequate.

  • Called on the Legislature to adopt stronger laws to guard against human sex trafficking, and announced creation of the Human Trafficking Council, which will be at the forefront of dealing with the issue.

  • Reviewed state accomplishments, including putting "Arizona's fiscal house in order" and cutting business taxes to encourage job growth totaling 170,000 new positions statewide.

Brewer opened her speech by leading a moment of silence for the 19 firefighters killed at Yarnell last summer.

Read Brewer's Executive Order on CPS here: View at Google Docs | Download File

State of the State update on AZ Illustrated Metro