Teachers continue walkout after lawmakers fail to pass a budget on Wednesday

Lawmakers failed to pass a budget on Wednesday, so teachers have announced the walkout will continue until it has been passed.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard has said the legislature plans to pass the budget Wednesday night. The budget package is already out of the appropriations committee in both chambers. The chambers will then bring the package to the floor and debate it. Then it will be time for Governor Doug Ducey to sign it into action.

“The assumption was that if this budget is approved and placed on the governor’s desk then there will be no walkout tomorrow,” Associate Publisher for Arizona Capitol Times Luige del Puerto says. “Their vow was that they would stop once the budget was passed. Right now we don’t have a budget passed. That’s what’s making it iffy for districts.”

Del Puerto says without a doubt the effort made by RedForEd has been successful. The governor offered a two percent pay raise in January, and since then he has brought it up to 10 percent this year and 20 percent by 2020.

“RedForEd has forced the governor, compelled the governor, to provide more in pay raises,” del Puerto says. “I don’t think you would have seen this governor provide a bigger bump for teachers without this RedForEd movement.”

The issues being raised by teachers is that the governor is only addressing one of their five demands which is why they decided to walk out even after he proposed the 20 percent pay raise. Teachers were looking for a promise of no new tax cuts, restoration of funding to 2008 levels, competitive pay for support staff and a salary structure that would allow annual raises.

“They are ending this strike without getting four of those demands,” del Puerto says. “The question is, was it worth it? The fact of the matter is the governor has changed his mind. If that’s not considered a victory, I don’t know what is.”

There is a current ballot initiative that is looking to increase income tax of individuals making over $250,000 by 2.5 percent. The initiative would require thousands of signature by the beginning of July which may not be enough time. Del Puerto says he has heard that the new income tax does have the support of the public, but it’s not going to have the support of the business community or the governor.

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Luige del Puerto: Assoc. Publisher, Arizona Capitol Times

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