Arizona Republic, Senator: Why I broke ranks with Democrats to approve Arizona’s teacher raise
Op-Ed By Steve Farley, 5/21/18
In most of my previous 11 budget debates at the Capitol, fired up on Dr. Pepper, I spoke to empty galleries and sleeping colleagues at 3:30 in the morning as I fought against education cut after education cut, corporate giveaway after corporate giveaway, year after year.
Then the #RedForEd movement arrived and changed everything.
Schools got $400-plus million
As the son of public school teachers and father of two Arizona public school graduates, I have viewed education from many angles.
Teachers, parents and students know that decades of attacks on our public schools have led to a crisis. Kids struggle to learn in crumbling classrooms from 20-year-old textbooks and 12-year-old computers while highly qualified educators flee Arizona for higher pay in neighboring states or leave the profession entirely.
For years, Gov. Doug Ducey has been an active participant in the attacks as he tried to kill successful Joint Technical Education District programs and signed a harmful private school voucher bill. And despite calls for help from teachers and staff, just a few weeks ago he insulted educators by calling their movement “political theater” and offered a measly 1 percent raise.
Tens of thousands of educators and allies rose up with a statewide “walk-in.” The next day the governor announced he would offer a purported 20 percent teacher raise.
Why I voted for the budget
Arizona House Democrats read a proclamation for #RedForEd supporters, thanking them for their tireless fight for school funding, on May 3, 2018. Dustin Gardiner, The Republic | azcentral.com
It took some tough bipartisan work and a statewide walkout to get his plan to a better place. Ducey ultimately agreed to more than $400 million in funding above inflation and enrollment growth for K-12 education next fiscal year.
LAWMAKER: Let’s bust myths about the teacher raise
No, the plan doesn’t fix our system all at once. But I could not oppose a bill that provides more new money to our public schools than I have seen in my 12 years as a legislator.
The #RedForEd movement scored a huge victory, and that must be honored. That’s why I voted for the bill, breaking with many of my Democratic colleagues while working with the opponent I face in November.
There’s more to do to fix the system
This is far from over. We must:
- Continue to find sustainable revenue sources to restore the building renewal formula.
- Give actual 20 percent raises to all education professionals.
- Restore the $1.1 billion in cuts since 2009.
- Fully fund all-day kindergarten, community colleges and universities. To thrive as a society, we must invest in ourselves.
We should approve full IRS conformity, which has bipartisan support and provides more than $200 million annually by aligning state to federal tax law.
We currently give away $13.7 billion each year in corporate sales tax loopholes. Working across the aisle to close just $3 billion would enable us to lower our sales tax by a full cent while increasing revenues by $2 billion per year.
Remember this in November
The only way we assure continued progress is to elect in November a governor and legislators who truly understand the importance of public education and act accordingly.
Which we will do. Together.
The #RedForEd movement proved that everyday Arizonans can create real change. #RedForEd has renewed civic activism that will transform our state for the better for decades to come.
It would be my greatest honor to turn this momentum into transformative policy changes and lead Arizona to a better place as your next governor.
May 21, 2018