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