Teachers voice concern over Governor Ducey's salary proposal

Marsha Scott
April 15, 2018

Arizona educators appeared mostly skeptical of Gov. Doug Ducey's proposal to give teachers 20% raises by 2020, and the organizers leading the teachers' #RedForEd revolt said it does not change their plans for a walkout.

In addition, Ducey stated more dollars are available for teachers and schools due to the reduction of state government operated budgets through strategic efficiencies, caseload savings and a rollback of some of the governor's office proposals included in fiscal-year 2019 executive budget. He's following that with 5 percent more each in the 2019 and 2020 school years.

Vanessa Jimenez, vice president of the Phoenix Union Classified Employees Association, said she was dismayed that the governor's raise proposal did not appear to include classified employees.

"It's wonderful what a threatened teachers strike in an election year can get the Republicans to do", Democratic Rep. Rebecca Rios said.

The proposal, which must be approved by the Arizona Legislature, also calls for a full reversal of recession-era cuts to education funding in the next five years.

Ducey outlined in the press conference that the percent raise is possible due to Arizona's growing population and revenue. Ducey's proposal didn't include more spending on those items.

Teachers who organized a grassroots effort that drew almost 45,000 members were cool to the announcement, saying they wanted details before reacting and lacked trust in the governor. "At this point there's not really anything to trust".

Sahuarita teachers joined efforts by the grass-roots Arizona Educators United in a rally at Sahuarita Road and Rancho Sahuarita Boulevard last week.

Last week, Arizona Educators United said they were willing to set a date for a statewide strike, but hadn't picked one as of Friday. The demonstrations saw teachers march arm-in-arm into school wearing red shirts as part of the #RedforEd campaign.

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Earlier Thursday, a proposal emerged in the Arizona House.

"I think he's understanding that this isn't going away", May said.

Teachers are also asking for restored school funding to match the cuts Arizona made after the 2008 recession - larger cuts than any other state, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities - and they want a freeze on tax cuts until per-pupil education spending reaches the national average. "There's no doubt about it; this plan would make sure that teachers get raises", Mesnard said.

Ducey says the average teacher earned $48,372 a year ago.

About 50 teachers, school staff and supporters decked out in red walked along Grand Avenue in Nogales early Wednesday morning, hoisting signs that said "Teachers can not live on apples alone" and "Make teaching great again", and cheering as drivers honked their horns in support.

The speaker hopes this will appease teachers who've threatened to strike if they didn't get an immediate 20 percent pay raise.

The proposal doesn't increase funding for other school needs. An initial investment of $100 million will be made in FY2019.

"We are continuing our commitment to prioritize public education - without raising taxes while maintaining Arizona's balanced budget", Ducey tweeted Thursday.

Rodriguez, who said she makes around $30,000 in her third year of teaching, also wants to see more funding for supplies, which teachers often have to buy or share.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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