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Gov. Doug Ducey working to track state money for K-12 funding, teacher pay

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question after a visit to Phoenix Children's Hospital Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Phoenix. Ducey on Tuesday said tapping the state's rainy day fund might be one option to at least temporarily continue a state insurance program for low-income children if Congress does not quickly renew it. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Governor Doug Ducey

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey defended his administration’s attempts to increase teacher pay over the last two years through the passage of a voter-approved proposition and a new budget, but admitted he does not know where the funding has gone.

In an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos, Ducey said he is working on accountability measures to track where the $350 million from Proposition 123 and $163 million from the state’s budget set aside for teacher funding has gone.

“We’re working on accountability measures so we can track these dollars that are going to the school districts,” he said.

“I would like to see them all go to teacher pay, but principals and superintendents tell me that there’s other needs that they have, some of them are more urgent, but I want to keep the focus on teacher pay.”

Ducey said he is going to ask teachers to help him track down the money by holding principals and superintendents accountable.

“The bigger challenge is where are those dollars going? How are they being spent?” he asked.

“A lot of people are saying those dollars are gone, they’ve already been spent. When you take a system…and move $513 million in a year and people say it’s already gone, that’s not an [satisfying] answer.”

Ducey also fired back at critics who claimed he gave several members of his staff large pay raises at the expense of Arizona teachers.

The Arizona Republic reported last month that Ducey gave 44 of his staff members raises up to 20 percent since the governor was elected in 2015.

In response, a group of teachers and advocates took to the streets to urge Ducey to give teachers a 20 percent raise.

Ducey said he has “not spent one additional dollar in the governor’s office,” adding that he has laid 10 people off in his administration.

“That article…really was agenda-based journalism,” the governor claimed.

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