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Arizona educators to continue walkouts Tuesday, Wednesday

Arizona teachers protest their low pay and school funding in front of a local radio station waiting for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to show up for a live broadcast Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Phoenix. Arizona teachers are threatening a statewide walkout, following the lead of educators in other states. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – After three days of walkouts by Arizona educators and supporters at the state Capitol, leaders of Arizona Educators United announced they would continue Tuesday and Wednesday.

The walkouts started last Thursday, with more than 50,000 educators and supporters marching from Chase Field in downtown Phoenix to the state Capitol in a demonstration for better pay and more school funding.

The walkouts caused numerous school districts around the state to close their doors last week, with many announcing they would remain closed through Tuesday with the fear of not having an adequate amount of staff to provide a safe learning environment for students.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Friday that he, Rep. J.D. Mesnard and the Senate President Steve Yarbrough had reached a deal that would raise teacher pay by 20 percent in the next two years, an additional $100,000,000 for support staff over a five-year period and no tax increase.

But Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Education Association, and Noah Karvelis, an organizer of Arizona Educators United, rejected the so-called deal in a press release.

“We have no bill. We have no deal. The devil is in the details,” said Thomas and Karvelis. “We know that we have been down this road before. He makes promises that he can’t keep.”

Legislative leaders previously vowed to work through the weekend to finalize the details of the budget so it could be introduced this week.

Educators and supporters fled to the Capitol Monday, determined to speak with lawmakers about the proposed budget deal.

A group of educators even made their way up to the third floor of the Senate building, where lawmakers gathered in the gallery to hold a rules committee hearing.

There they spoke with state Sen. David Farnworth, who said he predicted that lawmakers would push through a budget bill on Thursday, also suggesting that he would vote in favor of the bill.

“We have small budget meetings about once a week,” he said. “We tell them — Basically, the only way we have an influence is we tell them, ‘If you don’t put this in the budget, then I vote no.’ And I didn’t ask for anything.”

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