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EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Ducey discusses how to pay for teacher raises

Posted at 6:57 PM, Apr 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-14 00:10:00-04

Gov. Doug Ducey (R, Arizona) has proposed a twenty percent raise for Arizona teachers by the start of the 2020 school year but one day later questions remain about how the state will pay for the plan.

Ducey says an improving state economy has provided enough revenues, which combined with increased government efficiency, has created a surplus.

Teachers says they are not comfortable with the plan if it does not have a fixed funding source.

“That's why we're being fiscally responsible. So, we're balancing our budget, we've got surplus funds, we're going to direct those where they deserve to be- directed to our teachers,” Ducey said.

The governor says he is also willing to scale back some proposals he's made for this year's budget. 

Ducey’s plan includes a nine percent boost in funding this year, which, coupled with a one percent raise already coming, makes for a ten percent raise before the start of the 2018-19 school year. Then a five percent raise each year for two years after that. It includes $371 million for District Additional Assistance, which is money districts can spend on items like busses, building maintenance, curriculum, and other items.

Leaders of Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association say Ducey’s plan is encouraging but they are not satisfied.  

Jason Freed, President of the Tucson Education Association which is an affiliate of the AEA, says Ducey’s plan doesn't address demands for more money for support staff and doesn't identify a permanent funding source.

“This isn't enough,” Freed said. “It means absolutely nothing if after three years it collapses and we find ourselves in the same situation, actually worse, because now you're giving people less money,” he said.

Freed and Arizona Educators United say discussions about a possible walk out will continue.