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Gov. Doug Ducey Announces 20 Percent Pay Increase For Arizona Teachers By 2020
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is bending to teacher demands that he provide a big boost in pay by promising a net 20 percent raise by 2020.
The proposal rolled out by the Republican governor Thursday doesn't increase funding for other school needs or provide raises for school staff as a grassroots teachers group demanded. But it does bring dedicated salary increases. Teachers would see a 9 percent raise at the start of the next school year, followed by two years of 5 percent raises. The plan would increase the average salary to $58,130 by fiscial year 2021, according to Ducey.
The announcement comes on a week when teachers that have been protesting at the Capitol for weeks promised to set a date for a walkout.
"I have been paying attention to what's going on out across the state. I've been listening and I've been impressed," Ducey said.
The governor previously called the #RedforEd movement a "political circus."
The initial reaction from #RedforEd organizers has been mixed.
Teachers union group Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas is skeptical about how the funding will work.
"He's trying to stall and trying to slow things down and what we have to figure out is, is this going to be a meaningful plan with real details and will we see where the money is coming from and it's permanent money?" Thomas said.
Thomas went live on Facebook in a video hours after the announcement with other organizers, like Noah Karvelis, who has helped arrange the walk-ins.
"This has raised more questions for us than answers," Karvelis said. "It feels like this war is an attempt to stop whatever actions we may have been taking instead of a legitimate groundwork for future investment in education."
Dawn Penich-Thacker, a spokesperson for education advocacy group Save Our Schools Arizona, was stood behind the governor as he announced the plan and called it "encouraging."
"We are going to watch it develop and make sure that none of this step forward is lost to privatization," Penich-Thacker said.
Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation and have been emboldened by pay increases won by educators in west Virginia and Oklahoma in recent weeks.
Arizona Republican leaders in the State House of Representatives announced Wednesday a plan to increase teacher pay 6 percent.
Ducey said the raises will not subtract from $371 million promised over the next five years for school resources like textbooks, technology and school buses.
“Arizona’s economy is growing and with a growing economy comes more revenue,” Ducey said. "I'm confident we'll be able to weather the storm if it comes."
Ducey said those revenues, reductions in state government operating budgets and a rollback of previous budget proposals will pay for the raises.
When asked about how a downturn in the economic might affect teacher pay Ducey pointed to the state’s rainy day fund.
He warned legislators to expect a long weekend working on the budget.
Ducey's office released a statement on Twitter during the press conference:
Education is our top priority in Arizona. That’s why we are putting forth a plan to give teachers a 20% pay increase by the 2020 school year, with a 9% increase THIS year. View the plan here: https://t.co/ZkfXlQhJjx #AZEducation— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) April 12, 2018
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