Arizona House moves to hike teacher pay, governor may follow

Gov. Doug Ducey announces a plan to give teachers a 20 percent raise over the next three fiscal years

Gov. Doug Ducey announces a plan to give teachers a 20 percent raise over the next three fiscal years

Tucson teacher Derek Harris said Thursday evening that Ducey's plan to boost pay by 9 percent this year and 20 percent by 2020 is just a plan.

By Thursday, Republican Doug Ducey managed to scrape $274 million from the cash-starved state's coffers and provide a 20 % wage hike by 2020. He's following that with 5 percent more each in the 2019 and 2020 school years.

She points out the proposal doesn't specify whether or not all staff at schools will be seeing a raise.

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

Teachers in Arizona are some of the lowest paid in the country, according to The Washington Post. At the same time, Arizona also has either cut or reduced income and corporate taxes, further squeezing education budgets. As such, Arizona's budgets are still exceptionally tight a decade after the recession. Ducey's proposal didn't include more spending on those items. He's also said he would cancel some of the planned spending in his budget and use savings from government efficiencies.

Arizona lecturers had been cool to Ducey's announcement, saying they wanted particulars sooner than reacting.

"Are we going to trust legislators with this plan that kind of came out of nowhere, that they say that they're going to work on all weekend long?"

The #RedForEd organizers said they plan to move forward with a walkout and urged their members to remain united in a Facebook video message.

Larry Frederick, a music teacher at Lincoln, said he helped organize the walk-in "to raise awareness of the needs for education and raise support for public education in Arizona". The demonstrations saw teachers march arm-in-arm into school wearing red shirts as part of the #RedforEd campaign.

"As a result of Arizona's thriving economy and a record population of seven million plus residents", Ducey said. "We are fighting for you so that our resources do not have to be quite so limited anymore", the statement said.

"I'm impressed." On Wednesday, parents, teachers, and students held walk-ins at more than 1,000 Arizona schools. Adjusted for local cost of living, federal figures show elementary teachers actually rank 49th in earnings and high school teachers 48th.

He called for 9% teacher raises this fall and 5% raises over each of the next two years. And he says teachers also want to know if other school professionals will get raises.

Earlier on Thursday, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard rolled out a proposal to boost teacher pay by 6 percent next year and 24 percent over the next six years, CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO reports.

The demands include 20% teacher pay raises now, the restoration of about $1 billion in education funding cuts made during the Great Recession and competitive pay for classified employees, such as cafeteria workers, bus drivers and paraprofessionals. But he already proposed $100 million in his budget plan as a start to restoring almost $400 million cuts made earlier in the decade - including $117 million he cut in 2015. "Are we stealing from another pot of education?" He obviously is a huge supporter of the economy.

"My hope is that the collective power of teachers across the state gave the governor some pause", he said.

SUSD Superintendent Manny Valenzuela said he was "encouraged" by the governor's announcement Thursday.

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