Gov. Doug Ducey announces on April 12, 2018, a new education-funding proposal that would give Arizona’s teachers 9 percent pay raises this year.
Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday boosted his proposal for teacher raises to 9 percent, up from 1 percent he proposed in January, saying lawmakers would work through the weekend to figure out how to fund the plan.
Coupled with with 5 percent raises for the next two years, and the 1 percent raise given last year, Ducey said his proposal would give teachers a “net pay increase” of 20 percent by 2020.
Educators in Arizona for weeks have been protesting and threatening a walkout.
They have demanded 20 percent raises next year and restoration of about $1 billion in overall school funding that was cut during the recession.
“I’ve been paying attention to what’s going on across the state,” Ducey said at a press conference, surrounded by state lawmakers, education advocates and some school superintendents.
“The winners today are the teachers of Arizona.”
The governor said the 9 percent increase would bring the median teacher salary in Arizona to $52,725 this fall.
Ducey’s plan would make the average teacher salary $58,130 in 2020, he said.
Ducey said the initial 9 percent raises, which would cost about $274 million, are a “priority” in his budget proposal.
What lawmakers propose
Separately, lawmakers have been considering another alternative to increase funding for teacher raises. The plan would not increase taxes. It would redistribute money from school buildings and upkeep and direct it to teacher salaries.
The lawmaker plan would result in a 6 percent raise next year, short of the 20 percent teachers are demanding. It would increase for five years to a total of a 24 percent raise after five years.
“Teachers, parents, and leaders across this state understand that many dollars put into school budgets can NOT be spent on teacher pay when school buses are broken down, health insurance and utility costs are going up, class sizes are growing, roofs are leaking, students are missing classroom aids and counselors, and textbooks are 15 years old,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, president/CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance, an advocacy group.
MORE: In Tempe, teachers use their outside voices to speak up for kids, schools
#RedForEd on rumors of a proposal
At about 3 p.m., #RedForEd organizers briefed the private Arizona Educators United Facebook group about Ducey’s looming news conference through a video message.
Derek Harris, a Tucson teacher and an AEU organizer, said in the video that went out to the group’s 44,500 members that they didn’t know what the governor would announce, but said “we need to be sure that this is not just a pay (increase) for teachers.”
The group’s five demands also include competitive pay for all education support professionals, such as teachers’ aides and paraprofessionals.
“If (Ducey’s proposal) is just a pay raise for teachers, that is not gonna cut it because we have a whole other slew of people who make our schools operate every day that we need to take care of, too,” Harris said in the video message.
He said the group hadn’t officially decided whether they would accept anything less than their original demands.
“We want you to be informed. We want you to see it and we want to be sure we’re taking care of everyone who’s a part of this movement, part of the education system in Arizona. It’s not just teachers we’re looking at,” Harris told the group in the video.
Check back with azcentral.com for updates.
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Governor Doug Ducey talks to reporters, April 9, 2018, at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix about sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
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