Journalists’ Roundtable: Gov. Ducey proposes a 20 percent raise for teachers over three-year period
April 13, 2018
Local journalists respond to Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposal to raise teacher salaries by 20 percent by 2020 and the reactions from educators.
Teacher pay increase proposal
Ducey has proposed to increase teacher salary by 10 percent by the start of the next school year beginning this fall. The next year will see a five percent increase, as well as the year after that. By the start of the 2020 school year, teachers will have a 20 percent salary increase.
“Two weeks the governor was saying no way are the teachers getting a 20 percent raise,” Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Capitol Times says. “On Tuesday, he said these protests, Red for Ed, are all just political theater. Thursday rolls around, all of a sudden you have a big press conference, big proposal of a 20 percent raise in 3 years.”
Bob Christie from the Associated Press points out that by 2020 that’s a $650 million price tag which equals a five percent budget increase for new teacher pay. Ducey is also still promising to restore some of the money taken from the districts in the beginning of the decade. Skepticism revolving around his plan is mainly based in the question of where that money will come from.
How to pay for the governor’s teacher raise
Arizona is seeing a boom in the economy right now. Revenue projections are up from what was expected, and that’s the main source Ducey says the funds will come from. However, what if the economy takes a different turn next year? Where will the funds come from then?
“One of the biggest concerns we’ve heard is, you can guarantee this for the current year but can you guarantee this for the future years?” Duda says. “We haven’t seen the final numbers yet. This seems so heavily dependent on these better than expected revenues that we’re seeing now. If the economy goes south and we have another recession which could happen, then what do you do?”
Ducey has stuck to his promise of not raising taxes. He did sign off on extending Prop 301, but that only maintains the status quo.
“They [the legislature] can move pots of money around,” Mike Sunnucks with the Phoenix Business Journal says. “The economy has been doing better. It’s been a really long expansion. Everyone’s kind of waiting for it to turn and when we head back to a recession. There’s a lot of turmoil in the economy right now with the trade wars and the president.”
Response from teachers
Many teachers aren’t convinced yet because they don’t have a solid answer on where the funding will be coming from for not just this year, but the next three years. There are also other requests made by teachers that still haven’t been addressed by the governor like restoring the funding that was cut in 2008 and raises for support staff.
“There could be [a teacher strike still]. We’ll see a budget next week or the week after,” Christie says. “If that budget comes out and there aren’t any guarantees that the money is there, I think all bets are off and they’ll shut down the schools. It’s pretty clear from what’s happening across the state. The question is whether they take this as enough.”