Gov. Doug Ducey visits KTAR amid large protest of educators, supporters
PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey visited KTAR News 92.3 FM for his monthly exclusive interview with Mac and Gaydos on Monday, as hundreds of educators and supporters gathered outside to call for higher wages.
Ducey said he was working to increase funding within K-12 public education, adding that he was pushing to add $400 million for education in his latest budget proposal.
“I’m in agreement with the teachers. I want to pay them more,” he told Mac and Gaydos. “That’s what we’re going through in the budget process right now.”
The governor acknowledged that the average teacher salary of $48,000 “is not enough” and said he “wants to see it rise from there,” but also argued that there has not been an accurate account of the increased education funding that he has pushed through since taking office.
“There were $1.7 billion additional dollars — new dollars — that weren’t there before 2015,” Ducey said. “The recession was incredibly hard on Arizona.”
Ducey also said per pupil spending had increased by 10 percent and teacher pay had increased by nine percent since he first took office.
“It doesn’t solve the problem, but if you look at the trend I think we’re going in the right direction.”
When asked about what he thought about a potential teacher strike, Ducey shied away from supporting the idea entirely.
“I’ve talked to a lot of superintendents and they don’t think it would be a good idea for kids or learning in the classroom,” he said.
Teachers across West Virginia protested earlier this month, causing a nine-day shutdown of public schools. The strike ended after state officials vowed to raise teacher pay five percent.
The governor also emphasized that he was listening to the hundreds of educators and supporters who gathered to chant “Red for Ed” and “What’s the plan, Ducey? What’s the plan?” outside of KTAR News 92.3 FM’s studios on Monday.
“Those people who are out there are representing education and I’m listening to them.”