Arizona’s governor said Monday that he doesn’t understand why a teacher group has pledged to walk out later later this week, especially because he has endorsed a plan to give them 20% raises in the next three years.
A vote last week, conducted jointly between the grass-roots teachers group Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association teachers union, resulted in 78% of the 57,000 teachers and school employees who participated favoring a walkout, which is expected to start Thursday.
“I don’t know why the leaders would say that they’re going to strike when we are delivering for the teachers on what we believe they deserve,” Gov. Doug Ducey said on KFYI-FM, Phoenix. “Whatever the leaders in that movement are doing, I don’t think they’re really representing the teachers that are there for their kids every day, that are there for their parents.”
Arizona Educators United has a series of demands. One was an immediate 20% salary increase.
► April 20: Arizona educators vote to strike, a first for the state
► April 16: Arizona teachers planning three-day vote to decide whether to walk out
► April 16: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin apologizes for comments slamming teachers
The other demands include pay increases for support staff, a restoration of education dollars cut in previous years and a halt to tax cuts until the education budget reaches the national average.
Ducey did not specifically address the demands except for the raise. His plan calls for a 9% pay raise in 2019 on top of 1% already given this year and 5% increases each in 2020 and 2021.
He did say his plan gives money for school employees but that the state needs a low tax rate to attract companies and grow existing businesses.
► April 13: Arizona teachers skeptical of governor’s raise proposal
►April 13: Kentucky teachers rally for education money, fixes to their pensions
State legislators have to adopt his plan, insert it into the budget document that they’ve been working on and pass the proposal before Ducey can sign it into law. Arizona, like all states except Vermont, requires a budget to have balanced revenues and expenses.
Some activists have called for a tax increase to expand the money available for schools.
Some state lawmakers have said they are uncomfortable giving raises to teachers directly, preferring instead to have the money go to districts.