Defiant no more, Arizona governor bends to teacher demands

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

Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation.

It was a surprising shift in tone from the governor, who has repeatedly rejected teachers' demands for a raise and school funding.

"The winners today are the teachers of Arizona", Ducey said at a press conference Thursday.

A similar proposal was in Ducey's proposed budget released earlier this year. As recently as Tuesday, he said he was sticking with his plan to give teachers just a 1 percent raise in the coming year.

"Any proposal that wants to increase teacher salaries by 20 percent but does not want to put any more money into the school funding is leading Arizona schools and charter schools down a road to disaster", said Chuck Essigs, director of government relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

"This is about Arizona's future", Elegood said.

On Wednesday, Arizona teachers and others held "walk-ins" at more than 1,000 schools to draw attention to their demands.

As completion of the budget draws near, Ducey says the adjustments will create a lot of work for himself and legislators, but they are ready to take on the challenge. "At this point there's not really anything to trust".

Teachers wearing red shirts and holding signs are gathering outside Arizona schools to show solidarity in their demand for higher salaries.

Ducey says the average teacher earned $48,372 previous year. But it does bring dedicated salary increases.

Under the proposal, average teacher pay would go to over $58,000 by the start of 2020.

Now Republican Doug Ducey has managed to scrape together the funds for what he claims is a 20% rise for teachers by 2020. 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. "We will never stop our commitment to improving Arizona's public education system because when it comes to our kids, we must never stop working for them".

The proposal doesn't increase funding for other school needs.

Ducey's plan comes after educators protested for weeks and threatened a walkout in pursuit of 20 percent raises next year and restoration of about $1 billion in overall school funding that was cut during the recession.

A third bucket could contain a surprise: Using money from Obamacare's Medicaid expansion to help pay for teacher raises.

Ducey said the 9 percent raises, which will cost $274 million, are a "priority" in his budget proposal.

Mesnard stood with Ducey as his fellow Republican rolled out his plan, and later said his proposal was meant to show more teacher pay was possible.

"A company who found out that there could be a breach wouldn't have to notify consumers until an investigation was complete, and we were finding that sometimes consumers wouldn't find out for six months to a year after this happened, so by that time, the damage was already done", said Mia Garcia, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General. "We want to get more money into the classroom, more money into teacher pay, and it's always been about how we go about achieving that".

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