Day before election, Arizona governor’s race dominated by education
PHOENIX — As voters in Arizona will hit the polls on Tuesday to elect a state leader, one topic will be at the forefront of their minds: Education.
The Arizona gubernatorial race has been highlighted by education after 75,000 teachers marched on the Capitol this spring in a successful bid to raise their pay.
Gov. Doug Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News that, if he is re-elected, he would continue to make education a top priority in the state.
“Education is always going to be a top issue in this state. It’s the No. 1 line item in our budget,” he said, pointing to the move by the Arizona Legislature to increase teacher pay by 20 percent pay by 2020.
Ducey is facing off against Democrat David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor, in Tuesday’s election. Garcia’s campaign has focused on the state’s underfunded schools while attacking Ducey for what he says is his failure to prioritize school funding.
But polls have showed Ducey in a solid lead over Garcia.
Lawmakers approved a $10.4 billion budget bill in May, effectively ending a week of teacher walkouts over low pay and inadequate education funding.
The bill, which will help fund 10 percent raises for educators next year, will also make the first payment toward restoring nearly $400 million slashed from school building and maintenance budgets after the Great Recession.
Ducey has voiced his support for Proposition 305, a ballot initiative that would continue to provide state funds for parents who want to send their children to private schools.
The Arizona Republican, 54, also pledged to not raise taxes, pointing to a “billion-dollar surplus” as a reason.
“Why, when things aren’t going well, when people are struggling, why would you say we’re going to take more from you? That’s a California model,” Ducey said.
“We’ve got low taxes here and light regulation. What we want to do is make sure we properly spend the dollars we collect,” he added.
“I don’t want to take more money from hardworking taxpayers, I want to make sure we collect more through a growing economy and growing paychecks.”
Editor’s note: Garcia did not respond to an interview request from Arizona’s Morning News.