AZ Teachers Continue Strike, Teacher Pay Increase Passes

At approximately 2:00 a.m. on Thursday, Arizona legislators passed Governor Doug Ducey’s controversial proposal to increase teachers’ salaries by 20 percent by 2020. The vote fell largely along party lines.

At the end of day 5 of the Arizona teacher’s strike comrades in arms relax and enjoy adult beverages. [ADI photo]
Only four Democrats in the Senate and none in the House voted to increase teacher pay.

Despite receiving assurances that the proposal would pass, school districts around the state were forced to announce that they would keep their doors closed on Thursday because teachers intended to continue their strike. The governor had crammed his proposal through in order to avoid a protracted confrontation with teachers, but that plan failed and teachers left their classroom last Thursday as part of the national #Redfored movement and many have not returned.

“Isn’t it ironic, I now see the red movement — it’s all the red no votes on the board,” said Rep. Bob Thorpe referring to the House’s electronic voting system. “A member said “because we can do better, I vote no.”

“You’ve got to be joking,” continued Thorpe. “If you haven’t been here before, this is déjà vu all over, a repeat of all the years where the Democrats vote against the education budget. A member said that this is just pennies out of the cushions on a couch. That’s 160 billion pennies weighing 400 billion grams, that’s a freaking huge couch.”

“If the teachers and education do not want the money, then let’s give it to state employees who haven’t gotten raises in years, or the correction officers who work 12 hour days and haven’t gotten a raise in 10 years, or the DPS officers who have gotten minimal raises in the past 10 years. I’ve never know a private sector worker reject a 24% pay raise because they weren’t at the table,” said Thorpe referring to the budget negotiations.

“One member called this 1.6 billion dollar increase “crumbs,” what a slap in the face of the taxpayers, who are paying for this increase,” concluded Thorpe. “I join my Republican Governor, my Republican colleagues in the Senate and my Republican members in the House in voting yes.”

Rep. Kelly Townsend was the lone Republican no vote. “Although I have heard every speaker stand and say their vote is for the teachers, whether an aye or a nay, I have yet to hear anyone stand for the taxpayer,” said Townsend. “We had a projection, and then it increased to accomodate this new spending. Under a best case scenario, we come dangerously close to insolvency in three short years’ time.”

“I entered politics to speak for those who are “taxed enough already.” Townsend concluded, “Tonight I speak on their behalf, and I stand for what is best for our state. I vote no.”

Ducey’s proposal sweeps funding from other agencies across the board in order to increase teacher pay. Democrats insisted on a tax increase instead.

In response to the strike, the #purpleforparents group was borne of frustration with the striking teachers and school closures. #Purpleforparents hopes to raise awareness about parents’ educational choices. Already, private and charters schools have seen an uptick in interest by parents shopping for alternatives.

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