Pay-raise is­sue will con­tinue to haunt Ducey

The Arizona Republic - - Valley & State - Reach Mon­tini at 602-444-8978 or ed.mon­tini@ari­zonare­pub­ EJ Mon­tini Colum­nist Ari­zona Repub­lic USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

Gov. Doug Ducey de­liv­ered his State of the State ad­dress on Monday, and even if you re­ally paid at­ten­tion, you’ve prob­a­bly for­got­ten just about ev­ery­thing he had to say.

But you won’t for­get the pay raises. Not in an elec­tion year. Ducey was hop­ing we’d for­get all about those ex­ces­sive pay raises he gave to his in­ner cir­cle.

But we did not for­get. Cer­tainly, Ari­zona’s teach­ers and so­cial work­ers and other state em­ploy­ees did not for­get.

The peo­ple who protested at the Capi­tol for bet­ter education fund­ing over the week­end did not for­get.

And you can rest as­sured that any can­di­date look­ing to take the gover­nor’s job away from Ducey later this year did not for­get, and will not want vot­ers to for­get.

Be­cause you shouldn’t.

Last year, The Ari­zona Repub­lic’s

Craig Har­ris re­ported on the wildly ex­ces­sive pay raises Ducey gave to his in­ner cir­cle. And re­ported as well on the hefty salary bumps handed out to fa­vorites at the Depart­ment of Ad­min­is­tra­tion.


Of course you do.

As Ducey was of­fer­ing teach­ers raises of less than 1 per­cent be­cause of the state's tight bud­get, it came to light that he’d given 44 of his staff mem­bers raises of up to 20 per­cent each over the past 2½ years.

Mean­time, the gover­nor’s Depart­ment of Ad­min­is­tra­tion gave at least 245 em­ploy­ees pay raises that av­er­age 18 per­cent, or an $11,496 in­crease.

Dur­ing his State of the State speech, Ducey pledged to do more for education.

Among other things he said, “This week, I will re­lease my bud­get. It will in­clude a full com­mit­ment to ac­cel­er­ate the state’s K-12 investment, and re­store long-stand­ing cuts from the re­ces­sion made be­fore many of us were here.”

But will those increases — should they ma­te­ri­al­ize — come any­where close to match­ing what he gave his peo­ple?

Ari­zona ele­men­tary-school teach­ers are the low­est-paid in the coun­try, while high-school teach­ers rank No. 48 in pay. And Ari­zona teach­ers have one of the largest av­er­age class sizes in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to Ari­zona Education As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Joe Thomas.

Case­work­ers within the Ari­zona’s Depart­ment of Child Safety, who are charged — lit­er­ally — with sav­ing the lives of chil­dren, earn a lit­tle un­der $42,000 a year and have had a pay raise of less than 1 per­cent.

A good speech is, in the end, just talk.

We spend ac­tual money on what we value most.

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