Legislators could vote on deal to raise Arizona teachers’ pay Wednesday
PHOENIX — The progress of a $10.4 billion budget bill that included a 20 percent pay raise for Arizona educators was still up in the air as state lawmakers continued to debate on Wednesday, but two state senators said they were confident that they could vote on it by the end of the night.
Sen. John Kavanagh, who served as the president pro tempore and represented District 23, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos that it was “possible” that the Senate could vote on the budget by Wednesday night, but raised concerns about the House doing the same.
“That is true in the Senate,” he said, referring to the fact that lawmakers could vote the bill.
“The House, having twice the number of members and twice the amount of discussion and disagreement and concerns, it would be extremely difficult for them to do that. It is possible that we could do it tonight.”
Kavanagh told a KTAR News 92.3 FM reporter earlier on Wednesday that he was confident that the budget would be approved, including the “education policies that we have been talking about for the last several days.”
But the Republican representative said “mechanical” issues were slowing down the progress of the bill.
He said several proposed amendments would have to be discussed in both chambers so the language would be the same and then written up by lawyers.
“None of them are consequential to the budget bill, but it takes time for attorneys to draft up the amendments so they can fit into the budget,” he said.
Kavanagh said only one of the amendments had to do with the education bill, which would make it more clear that the money would go toward teacher pay.
Democrat Sen. Steve Farley, who represented District 28, also told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos that senators could get a deal done by Wednesday night.
“If they have votes, if they decide to do a deal — and it sounds like they might, I mean they could just be announcing this in order to put pressure on some holdouts — then we could get a deal tonight,” he said.
“The traditional way you do things around here…is we end up doing the major budget debate in the middle of the night, literally.”
On the House side, Speaker J.D. Mesnard said in a tweet that the House intended to pass the budget by Wednesday night.
We are presently putting the final touches on the budget. The House intends to pass the budget, including #20×2020 teacher pay package, today/tonight.
— J.D. Mesnard (@JDMesnard) May 2, 2018
A sixth day of walkouts was expected to continue on Thursday, but organizers behind the #RedForEd movement said teachers would return to their classrooms if lawmakers could pass the budget.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.