Journalists’ Roundtable: Teacher walkout, Governor’s plan, Lesko’s win in CD8
April 27, 2018
In a special edition of Journalists’ Roundtable, columnists react to the teacher walkout and Debbie Lesko’s win in Congressional District 8.
Over 50,000 people came out to support educators on Thursday by marching from Chase Field to the capitol and holding a day-long rally. The walk out continued on Friday with a large rally in front of the capitol.
“There were red-shirted people coming from everywhere,” Laurie Roberts, metro columnist for The Arizona Republic, says. “I have never seen such an outpouring of people all aimed toward one thing. It must put an enormous amount of pressure on the legislature.”
Arizona teachers come out in the wake of walk outs in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Arizona Republic editor Phil Boas says the teachers here wouldn’t have gone out if it wasn’t for the success of teachers in West Virginia.
Governor Doug Ducey announced a three year plan to increase teacher salaries by 20 percent. There are questions surrounding the plan, including how it can be funded without an increase in taxes. Ducey claims that the funding will come from continued economic growth.
“I think they made a big mistake when they slapped back the governor when he made his proposal for 2020,” Boas says. “When you have a governor who has made that large of a move in your direction, that’s a pretty powerful ally to have in the state. No bill or no proposal is going to be perfect when it’s first announced. To slap it back, it almost made the point that the teachers wanted to solve the issue by getting a new governor.”
Legislature agrees to governor’s plan
The legislature has agreed to the governor’s plan, but details of the budget are yet to be released. Roberts says that the issue Ducey has to deal with is the lack of trust educators have in him. Even if he means what he proposes, she says, teachers don’t trust it because they have seen education funding cut to the bone under him.
Boas says trust is a two way street. The people don’t trust Ducey, and Ducey has a difficult time trusting those who are running #RedForEd. According to Boas, the governor’s mistake right now is not meeting with #RedForEd.
“There’s signals coming out from the leadership over there is that they’re supportive of his opponent,” Boas says. “I think he needed to bite the bullet and meet with them and find a common ground.”
Arizona Republic editor Abe Kwok says that ideally everyone wants the teachers to stand down by Tuesday. He says they should allow the process to take its course, see what develops then look at the options.
“Do they want to play hardball with this governor and just make it about the fall election?” Kwok says. “That’s where teachers and education supporters have a lot to lose.”
Ballot measure for funding education
A ballot measure to increase income taxes for those who make $250,000 or more has been issued and quickly shot down by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. It was asking for a near doubling in income tax for high earners.
“That is going to be tough on small business,” Roberts says. “It is going to be a rich versus poor thing. Do you really want to go down that road? You have the chance to blow it here and lose.”
Lesko wins congressional seat
Republican Debbie Lesko won the seat for Congressional District 8 by a surprisingly small five point lead against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni. Given the district’s usual reputation for being solidly Republican, it was expected that she would win by a larger margin.
“It points to the problem Republicans are going to have in the fall,” Boas says. “There’s a political gravity to the midterms, and the party out of power always makes gains. Add to that the least liked president in history, they’re definitely going to make gains.”