3 things to watch in the gov­er­nor’s wage plan.

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Lau­rie Roberts:

Re­ac­tion to my take on Gov. Doug Ducey’s sud­den plan to give teach­ers a de­cent pay raise fell into two camps.

First, there is this (mostly from Repub­li­cans): OMG, why won’t you give the gov­er­nor credit for propos­ing what amounts to a 20 per­cent raise over four years.

“Ducey gives teach­ers a huge raise, and noth­ing but neg­a­tive by you,” Mike wrote. “It would seem no mat­ter what the teacher out­come is, you are go­ing to be neg­a­tive.”

Then, there was this (mostly from Democrats): OMG, why are you fall­ing for this stunt when you know Ducey will ei­ther (a) not fol­low through or (b) take the money from other vi­tal pro­grams.

“I will be­lieve it when I see it,” Bill said. “Those folks have robbed ed­u­ca­tion for too long, and I don’t see any rea­son why they will stop this time.”

First, I do give the gov­er­nor credit, even if it did take the threat of a teacher strike — and the pos­si­ble loss of his job — to spur him to of­fer de­cent raises to some of the na­tion’s most poorly paid teach­ers.

Sec­ond, I’m not fall­ing for any­thing. Ducey is a master of spin and adept at the art of the shell game. (See Prop. 123, wherein he got school dis­tricts to ac­cept 70 per­cent of what a judge said they were owed — and to pay for It dipped into the prin­ci­pal of a trust fund set up for schools.)

But I’m giv­ing the guy a chance and that strikes me as a fair thing to do.

Let’s hear how Ducey plans to pay for his pro­posal — and while he’s at it, an ex­pla­na­tion for why he couldn’t find the money to give teach­ers de­cent raises un­til now, when they are threat­en­ing to strike.

Three things I’ll be watch­ing for next week:

1. Does Ducey plan to di­vert money from some other vi­tal pro­gram, such as the state’s health-care plan for the poor, in or­der to fund teach­ers raises?

If he has found the $274 mil­lion needed through higher-than-ex­pected state rev­enue and “ef­fi­cien­cies” in state gov­ern­ment — money that will be avail­able not just this year but in fu­ture years — then that’s fan­tas­tic news.

But I wouldn’t con­sider di­vert­ing money in­tended to fund health care for low-in­come Ari­zo­nans, for ex­am­ple, as an ef­fi­ciency or a long-term rev­enue strat­egy.

If Ducey can’t make this plan work with­out find­ing a new rev­enue stream, then he needs to find a new rev­enue stream. 2. How hard will Ducey push to get his plan through the Leg­is­la­ture? Given Democrats’ skep­ti­cism, he’s likely go­ing to need ev­ery Repub­li­can vote he can get.

It would be most con­ve­nient for the

Leg­is­la­ture to balk, let­ting Ducey claim credit for his pro­posal with­out ac­tu­ally hav­ing to give teach­ers de­cent raises. Gov­er­nors, how­ever, have a lot of power. Is this one will­ing to use it to push a 9 per­cent pay raise through the Leg­is­la­ture?

And what is he will­ing to do to en­sure that the promised 5 per­cent raises in 2019 and 2020 hap­pen? Ducey can’t ob­li­gate a fu­ture Leg­is­la­ture, but he can make a de­fin­i­tive vow that if re­elected, he will fall on his sword be­fore let­ting those raises evap­o­rate.

3. What is his plan to boost pay for the other poorly paid school em­ploy­ees, the ones who drive the buses and coun­sel the kids, the ones who feed them lunch and man the li­braries?

Teach­ers aren't just threat­en­ing to strike to get raises. They are stand­ing up to get schools the re­sources Ari­zona's po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have long de­nied them even as they cut taxes to the tune of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

How will Ducey re­store the $1 bil­lion in cuts that never came back after the re­ces­sion ended?

Ducey this week took a vi­tal first step — vi­tal for the fu­ture of schools and vi­tal for his re-elec­tion prospects.

But so far, it’s only a set of pretty prom­ises.

Now we wait and we watch.

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