Pay-raise issue will continue to haunt Ducey
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.