PHOENIX — Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia and the state Democratic Party are both pushing back against Governor Doug Ducey’s proposal to give Arizona teachers a 20 percent pay raise.
Governor Ducey, a Republican, announced a new plan Thursday to give a significant pay raise to teachers across Arizona. The plan includes an immediate 10 percent increase in salary, effective at the beginning of the Fall 2018 school year, and 5 percent increases at the beginning of each of the next two years — for a total of a 20 percent raise.
The investment is in addition to the governor’s proposal to fully restore recession-era funding cuts to education, which he announced earlier this year.
The Arizona Democratic Party issued a press release dismissing the plan as a “bandage.”
“There’s no doubt Arizona’s teachers deserve a respectful wage, but Ducey’s pay raise proposal is the sort of ‘political theater’ that only vulnerable governors pull on an election year,” Herschel Fink, the party’s executive director, said.
Laurie Roberts, a liberal columnist with the Arizona Republic, mocked the Democratic Party’s characterization on social media.
“Democratic Party just called @DougDucey’s 3-yr plan to raise teacher pay by 19% ‘a bandage,’” Roberts tweeted in response. “Seriously?”
Hank Stephenson, a K-12 education policy reporter at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, agreed.
“lol Dems are so mad rn Ducey just took just gave them what they wanted and now they have no campaign talking points,” Stephenson tweeted.
David Garcia, one of the Democrats running against Governor Ducey in 2018, said that the proposal did not pass the smell test for him and might be “robbing from other needs” in the budget. “We do not give Doug Ducey the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Garcia has faced intense scrutiny over the past several weeks for his role in politicizing the #RedForEd movement, which critics saw as an attempt to benefit his campaign. The Democrat was confronted on the radio for “making it political” and having “trampled on #RedForEd’ Day” in March. Garcia lost the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, a union headed by Randi Weingarten, to his Democratic primary opponent one week later.
State Senator Steve Farley, Garcia’s opponent, offered a more measured response to Governor Ducey’s plan, praising it as a “first step.”
“While it looks like we may have turned the battle in our favor, the fight is never over,” he said.
When interviewed last month about the prospect of a teachers union strike, Farley initially refused to answer the question directly.
He responded that it was “hard to tell” if such a strike would be counterproductive but ultimately said: “If the teachers are leaning in this direction and we’re not getting any action when it comes to the legislature, then we should support where the teachers are going.”
A version of this article appears at Arizona Democrats Exposed.