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Former Arizona Gov. Brewer skeptical of Ducey’s proposed teacher raises

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Governor Jan Brewer

PHOENIX — When former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer heard of Gov. Doug Ducey’s latest proposal to increase teacher pay she was excited for the teachers but skeptical as to the where the money was coming from.

“I said ‘Woohoo’ when I heard that this was going to be on the table and then I thought ‘now how is he going to do all this?'” Brewer told Mac & Gaydos on KTAR News 92.3 FM Wednesday. “The devil’s always in the details but I’m sure that the teachers and everybody that has been out there working toward this direction of this pay increase is ecstatic — I think they would be.

“But again, I don’t know exactly what the plan is. I don’t know if everybody knows exactly what the plan is, I’ve talked to some people that I know that are kind of in the thick of things down there and they didn’t have a real handle on it either. This is a difficult situation and to come up with this kind of money over a three-year period is going to be very, very difficult in my mind without a guaranteed revenue source.”

Last Thursday, Ducey announced that teachers in the state would receive a 20 percent pay raise over the next two years.

Teachers would see a one percent pay raise in fiscal year 2018, a nine percent raise in fiscal year 2019 and then a five percent raise in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

The average teacher pay in Arizona is $48,723, according to Ducey.

If the Legislature passes the increase, Ducey said teachers would see their pay increase to an average of $52,725 by the upcoming school year and $58,130 by 2020.

Ducey also pledged $371 million in district assistance to provide flexible funding for schools to use on various improvement projects.

But some teacher advocacy groups are not happy with the proposal, stating that it just moves money around from existing budgets and relies heavily on future projections for money the state could bring in. Save Our Schools and Arizona Education Association both felt the proposal didn’t meet enough of the demands for the Red for Ed movement.

Brewer can see why they are frustrated with Ducey’s plan.

“The budget’s on the desk of the legislature and the governor every year — they talk about three-year budgets, which was instigated when I was there because we had to plan for the future because we had nothing to plan with, we had to kind of plan forward — but now they are doing three-year type budgets, but the budget funding is only for one year. So you can’t hold another legislature hostage for what you said you were going to do in one year,” Brewer said.

“The dynamics of it all are very difficult, so I hope they get it engraved in marble.”

According to Brewer, Ducey’s office can only make good on the nine-percent raise in the first year. He cannot hold a future legislature that follows after the budget accountable for his proposal, she said.

“He can put it in the three-year budget but the funding isn’t in there and you can’t encumber financially a legislature that is going to be elected maybe in November.”

And while she understands the frustrations of the teachers still planning on going on strike, she offered up another thought.

“I understand your frustration and I understand you have been very bold and you got somebody to listen and that is very, very important but I think at this point at time that if you strike, you might lose some of the public support,” Brewer said.

“Because a lot of people do not think public employees should strike and teachers aren’t just hurting themselves, but they’re hurting the kids and they’re hurting the parents that need to go to work.”

Mac & Gaydos

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