Governor’s budget locks in teacher pay raises

Teachers now will see the raise spread out in each paycheck, rather than in one or two lump sums as a stipend

By Ben Giles | Arizona Capitol Times

One year after claiming local school officials can’t be trusted, Gov. Doug Ducey now has faith that state monies are going to pay teachers higher salaries.

Ducey’s proposal, a part of his $10.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2019, would move an earmark for teacher pay hikes from a line item in last year’s budget to the base level funding formula for K-12 schools. Wary of the funding mechanism, which the governor and legislative Republicans said was necessary to hold school districts accountable for their spending, administrators opted to boost teacher pay with bonuses or stipends, not raises.

The proposal also makes good on Ducey’s promise from 2017 to give a 2 percent raise phased in over two years. A $34 million appropriation for the initial 1 percent would be boosted to $68 million for a full 2 percent this year.

Base level funding is a more permanent, reliable source of revenue for schools, according to Chuck Essigs, director of government relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, while a line item funding mechanism is subject to the whims of future legislators who may not feel as strong about continuing to fund a 2 percent pay hike for teachers.

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