Arizona teachers get pay raises finally in budget bill that governor signed Thursday morning. Now Arizona schools are preparing to reopen Friday after six days across the state.
This budget bill includes nearly $273 million aimed at giving teachers pay raises after state legislators debated for 13 hours. Schools were closed until the budget passed.
Ducey initially had decided for giving every teacher a 20% raise by the year 2020. But in terms of 1% this year, 9% next year and 5% raises in the 2020 and 2021. The grassroots group that organized the walkout, Arizona Educators United, also wanted a 20% pay increase in one year, not three.
Arizona’s 2017 per-pupil expenditures were $7,501, according to a National Education Association report released earlier this month. The state’s average teacher’s salary was $47,403, eighth lowest in the country, compared to a national average of $59,660.
The new plan pays for the teacher salary increases partly through a vehicle-registration fee. This fee would be levied on every motorist. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated it at $18 to $24 a vehicle each year.
Lawmakers had not assured that every teacher in the state would receive exactly a 20% pay raise. “Right now we’re getting about four-elevenths of what we were asking for in terms of funding,” said Mark Zepezauer an eighth-grade social studies teacher from Tucson’s Sunnyside Unified School District.