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Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase


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  • Lisa Irish/ Arizona Education News Service

Sen. Sylvia Allen Discussed Her Vote On HB 2663 On May 3, 2018. Photo Courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Updated May 4:

Legislators ended the session for the year just after midnight on Friday.

A bill that would have repealed the legislature’s 2017 school voucher expansion failed Friday without a final vote.

May 3:

The Arizona Legislature approved the budget just after 9 a.m. Thursday. The House and Senate will reconvene Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

 

The Arizona Senate passed the K-12 education portion of the $10.4 billion budget, and Gov. Doug Ducey signed it early Thursday morning, while the House of Representatives continued to discuss bills for several more hours.

All but one Republican voted for the K-12 education portion of the budget. All Democrats in the House voted against the K-12 education portion of the budget, while just four Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill.

For an updated  Arizona School Boards Association summary of the how the proposed budget bills will affect K-12 education, please click here. Also, to view a table of the relative appropriations, click here.

ASBA will send out another update later today with final floor action from the past 18+ hours, said Leigh Jensen, governmental relations associate with Arizona School Boards Association.

All week, #RedForEd supporters, teachers and education advocates rallied outside the capitol and filed into the House and Senate buildings to they could attend legislators hearings, comment on the proposed budget plan, and keep track of progress on the budget bills.

On Tuesday, Arizona Educators United had urged teachers to return to their classrooms on Thursday morning if lawmakers passed the budget by then.

But as the budget process moved slowly Wednesday, Arizona Educators United called on educators to be at the Capitol again on Thursday. That caused some schools which had said they would be open on Thursday to notify parents that they would be closed for a sixth day.

Arizona Education Association sent out a press release Wednesday morning saying they oppose the K-12 education portion of the budget that includes House Bill 2663 and Senate Bill 1521.

“While this bill moves the needle, it still does not go far enough,” said Joe Thomas, president of Arizona Education Association. “It does not restore the more than $1 billion taken from our students and it leaves out school support staff like counselors, bus drivers, librarians, and many more who are vital to the success of our students. The truth is that this budget is far from perfect. Lawmakers brokered it behind closed doors as a partisan deal, without input from us. We were not able to change the minds of lawmakers, so the next step will be to change the faces of our lawmakers.”

9:03 a.m.

Legislators passed the budget just after 9 a.m. Thursday.

All but one Republican voted for the K-12 education portion of the budget.

All Democrats in the House voted against the K-12 education portion of the budget, while just four Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill.

8:42 a.m.

“Go back to your classrooms and your students, and thank you for your presence at the capitol here this past week,” said Rep. Randall Friese, Assistant Minority Leader.

Rep. Friese voted no on Senate Bill 1529.

Rep. Isela Blanc said “You have had a crash course in Civics 101, and I’m thankful and grateful for you.”

“I hope you understand that we who voted no are voting no for you and your students,” Rep. Blanc said.

Rep. Blanc vote no on the bill.

Rep. Lela Alston spoke to education supporters in the gallery when she said “We’ve got your back, and I know you have ours.”

Rep. Alston vote no on the bill.

“We need to take a hard look at the 330 exemptions,” close those loopholes and see how much revenue we can find there, said Rep. Daniel Hernandez.

“In this country, we have rights. I have family members all over the world who have lived through times when rights have been stripped away,” said Rep. Athena Salman. “Rights will never be given to you, you must fight for them.”

“As you move forward and demand your rights from this chamber and the public, know that you are leaders and that other people will be looking to you and remember the feeling of going though this process,” Rep. Salman said. “You are still in this fight and in this struggle, fighting for your rights.”

Rep. Salman voted no on the bill.

“This budget today has the wrong priorities,” Rep. Mark Cardenas said.  “We have seen today the shielding of income for people with private planes and country club memberships. We have seen what I would say is a flip-flop of what your values are and what the legislature’s are, and for that reason I vote no.”

Rep. Cardenas voted no on the bill.

The bill passed on a vote of 32 aye, 26 nay and 2 members not voting.

6:46 a.m.

The House continues to discuss bills.

5:35 a.m.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May3SteveFarley

Sen. Steve Farley talks about the K-12 education portion of the budget on May 3, 2018. Photo by Arizona Capitol Television

“I understand what educators go through because I saw what my parents went through when I was growing up,” said Sen. Steve Farley, assistant minority leader.

“You have done this incredible victory,” Sen. Farley said to the education supporters in the gallery. “This is not the end.”

Then Sen. Farley voted for House Bill 2663.

“I understand for some this might not want to go where they want to go, but to say it’s a poor excuse for a budget is inherently wrong and a disservice to the teachers who came down here,” said Sen. Steve Smith. “I think this budget goes a very long way.”

Sen. Sonny Borrelli said “When I hear all or nothing that’s no good for me. That’s not a solution for rural Arizona, which is performing well with less money.”

Sen. Borrelli voted for the bill.

“We failed to give our teachers respect,” said Sen. Martin Quezada, Minority Whip. “We didn’t give them the dignity by voting on the K-12 education budget early instead of at 5:00 in the morning.”

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May3SylviaAllen

Sen. Sylvia Allen discussed her vote on HB 2663 on May 3, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

“I’m sorry that we weren’t able to establish the trust you need in your elected officials,” Sen. Quezada said.

Sen. Quezada voted no on the bill.

“Last year, we couldn’t have done this. The money just wasn’t there,” said Sen. Sylvia Allen. “I thank the Arizona taxpayers for letting us put more dollars back in education where they are needed.”

Sen. Allen voted for the bill.

House Bill 2663 passed with  20 ayes, 9 nays and 1 Senate member not voting.

“Earlier today I received hundreds of emails saying we were stalling, and I hope you know that is not true,” said Sen. Steve Yarbrough, President of the Senate.

4:36 a.m.

Senators are now discussing House Bill 2663.

Sen. Lisa Otondo said “Those yes votes are in celebration of progress. They are not in celebration of the process, and there is a very big difference.”

Of the five requests educators made, “How many of those were met?” Sen. Otondo asked.

“Politics and progress are done in steps, and this is not the first step,” Sen. Otondo said. “No matter what color I push, this bill is going through. You have to know that they are celebrating with you or saying your steps have not been met.”

Sen. Otondo voted no.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May3Hobbs

Sen. Katie Hobbs discusses education funding on May 3, 2018. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

Sen. Katie Hobbs, Minority Leader, said she feels really conflicted about this vote.

“We all know what we want to do, we disagree sometimes on how to get there,” Hobbs said.

Sen. Juan Mendez said “An attempt to placate one of our educators demands and none of the others comes off as a slap in the face.”

“I wish we were as invested in our teachers as they are in their students,” Mendez said.

Sen. Sean Bowie said he views this budget as a step in a 10-step process to bring more funding to K-12 education.

“The legislature does not have the final say on how the money is spent; however, we have included a new requirement that districts and charters must report teacher pay,”  said Sen. Warren Petersen.

Sen. Petersen voted for the bill.

Sen. Kate Brophy McGee said  “Four hours before we started debating the budget, Arizona Educators United  and Arizona Education Association decided a 20 percent increase is not enough.”

“If we had adopted the amendments presented tonight, that would have jeopardized spending. It would not have been sustainable,” Sen. Brophy McGee said.

“This budget represents another positive step forward, but there’s a lot of work left to do,” Sen. Brophy McGee said.

Sen. David Bradley said to education supporters in the gallery “You did this, and for this, I vote yes.”

“You have done in one week what I have not been able to do in 14 years,” Sen. Bradley said.

3:45 a.m.

Rep. Doug Coleman said “This is an easy vote for me.”

“If you had told me that I would be voting to put 10 percent into base funding into schools, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Coleman said. “Is it enough? I don’t think it’s enough.”

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May3Eric

Rep. Eric Descheenie discusses the K-12 education portion of the budget on May 3, 2018. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

“I look at this proposal and see that it’s what I got in the last 8 years I was teaching,” Coleman said. “I’m happy to vote yes on this budget. It’s real. It’s not a shell game. It provides new dollars to teachers.”

“I’m telling you that I think that it’s a huge win,” Coleman said.

Rep. Coleman voted for the K-12 education portion of the budget – House Bill 2663.

Rep. Darin Mitchell said “We have to do this incrementally,” then he voted for the bill.

Rep. Eric Descheenie said there were five demands that drew educators out here for five days of demonstrations “and I could easily argue they are coming away with less than one.”

Descheenie voted no.

Rep. Bob Thorpe chastised Democrats for voting against the education bill.

“You vote no when we’re doing something monumental tonight,” Thorpe said.

“I’ve never in my life in the public sector seen someone reject a 20 percent raise because they weren’t at the table when the deal was made,” Thorpe said. “We do what we can. The Republicans are doing something monumental. The Democrats are going to sit on the bench.”

Rep. Thorpe voted for the bill.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May3MariaSyms

Rep. Maria Syms discusses the K-12 education portion of the budget on May 3, 2018. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

Rep. Maria Syms said many of her colleagues stood with the governor when this plan was rolled out in bipartisan support for this historic plan with money for Arizona teachers.

“Even tonight before this vote, we were flooded with votes, asking us for more amendments, more changes more stipulations,” Rep. Syms said, noting she was proud of her colleagues who stayed the course.

“We should be celebrating,” Rep. Syms said. “I want everyone to reflect on where we were and how far we’ve come.”

Rep. Paul Boyer said “I hope that when we pass this budget, that schools open and student learning continues,” then he voted for the bill.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May3JDMesnardJPG

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard explains his vote on House Bill 2663, the K-12 education portion of the budget bill, on May 3, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said to have this many people voting against this proposal is astonishing.

“This budget actually appropriates into the future, and these raises are real,” Mesnard said, then he voted for the bill.

House Bill 2663 passed with 33 ayes, 26 nays and two House members not voting.

Mesnard said this was the one bill the Senate was waiting on.

2:28 a.m.

After discussing the education portion of the budget bills for nearly four hours, legislators explained their votes.

“Again you’re seeing before your sleepy eyes the two ways we can go” said Rep. Russell Bowers. “We have done an immense good here today for teachers, students and schools.”

Then Rep. Bowers voted for the bill.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May3-Wanda-Benally

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales discusses budget bills on May 3, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales noted that many of the #RedForEd supporters who are in the gallery have been there for 19 hours and described why she is voting this way on House Bill 2663 – the K-12 education portion of the bill.

Many teachers who have been teaching 20 plus years and who are teaching coaches do not fit into this proposal, yet they are coaching new teachers coming in from the universities, Gonzales said.

Gonzales described a teacher who said she would forgo a raise if the school could provide a counselor for one needy student. Then Rep. Gonzalez voted no on the plan.

Rep. Kirsten Engel said “We know that we are facing a teacher shortage now –  2,000 teachers we need to staff our schools semi-adequately. We’d need more teachers to get down those class sizes as we talked about today.”

“We know how important those school counselors and psychologists are. We talked about that when we talked about school safety,” Rep. Engel said.”I don’t feel good about it. I feel like this is a huge missed opportunity. I feel like we could do better and come up with something that puts real money in our schools, because of that I’m voting no.”

“We have been cheap here in this legislature, that’s what teachers in my district are telling me,” said Rep. Diego Espinoza. “Where are our priorities?”

“This is an Arizona issue, not a partisan issue, but you have no Democrats at the table,” Rep. Espinoza said and he voted no on the plan.

In Arizona, we educate and we incarcerate, said Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon.

“We do not support the people who support our students,”  Rep. Gabaldon said. “My moral compass is saying this is not enough, so I’m voting no.”

“We can get to enough, but this is not enough,” said Rep. Mitzi Epstein, “I want today’s children to have what my students had.”

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Rep. Rebecca Rios discussed the budget on May 3, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

“We cannot look at one school and say everything is fine, because everything is not fine. Five percent is not enough,” Rep. Epstein said. “A group of teachers told me they endured three years without air conditioning and  that students sweat in the summer and shivered in the winter.”

“Come on, let’s fix this. Our students deserve better,” Rep. Epstein said and then she voted no on the bill.

“This budget puts schools and teachers up against the wall,” said Rep. Cesar Chavez. “Another thing that this budget does is take from the most needy to give to the most needy.”

“We as a state can do so much more, if we are willing to speak and work with one another,” Rep. Chavez said and voted no on the bill.

“This body has failed to live up to the promises to our teachers so I will be voting no,” said Rep. Wenona Benally.

“This budget is a shell game,” said Rep. Rebecca Rios, Minority Leader. “We had the option to fix this and do things right.”

Updated May 2

9:51 p.m.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May-2Regina-Cobb

Rep. Regina Cobb discusses the budget bills on May 2, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Rep. Kelli Butler moved that her amendment be added to House Bill 2659, which would remove a trigger that automatically freezes the number of kids able to be enrolled in kids care if the federal government does not fund the program at 100 percent.

“This amendment says we as a legislature get to decide,” Butler said.

“We cannot let the federal government determine if our kids are going to have the care they need,” said Rep. Tony Navarrete.

Rep. Regina Cobb  said she was against the amendment, because we don’t have the $4 million for it this first year, but she would like to re-introduce it next year.

“Until I can see the revenues are where we projected them at, I don’t want put our state at risk,”  Rep. Cobb said.

“We are putting our children at risk,”said Rep. Isela Blanc. “When children have health care, we are able to diagnose developmental delays early and get them the help they need.”

“If our children are sick, if they are hungry, if they don’t have a place to go to bed tonight, they can’t be successful learners,” said Rep. Daniel Hernandez. “We shouldn’t pit health care against education, because we all know they are connected.”

“We are not making a priority in our state to take care of our children and educate them,” said Rep. Diego Espinoza.

It makes no sense to me to spend money on horses and “freedom” schools, when we can’t find money to give all teachers and support staff good raises, said Rep. Ray Martinez.

Arizona’s kids “deserve better from each and every one of us,” said Rep. Charlene Fernandez, Minority Whip.

The vote on the Butler amendment failed.

HB 2659 passed with 34 voting aye, 25 voting nay and 1 not voting.

 

8:19 p.m.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard moved that the floor amendment in Rep. David Livingston’s name be added to House Bill 2660 for capital outlay and appropriations.

Then Rep. Randall Friese moved that Rep. Eric Descheenie’s amendment be added to House Bill 2660 that would fund a chemical service lab with Navajo Technical University.

Livington said he would like to work with Descheenie on a plan for this for the next legislative session, but “unfortunately, we don’t have the money to do this this year.”

Descheenie’s  amendment was voted down.

7:46 p.m.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May2HouseDemocratic-Caucus

The House Democratic Caucus discusses the budget bills on May 2, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Rep. Rebecca Rios spoke to the #RedForEd supporters watching when she said “When you hear there’s no way to bring in new revenue, know that there is.”

The House Democratic Caucus recognized the contributions of the unions in donating food for the teachers at the capitol and “helping us through this time of need,” said Rep. Randall Friese.

“We will soon be going to the floor for Committee of the Whole” Friese said.

The House Committee of the Whole will convene at 7:57 p.m.

7:20 p.m.

 

 

5:56 p.m.

“I’d recommend teachers attend school board meetings more often, and demand they get inflation pay each year,” said Rep. David Livingston.

By putting money into the per-pupil base funding, school boards are given the flexibility on how they can spend it, Rep. Jill Norgaard said

“What this flexiblity is meant to do is to let districts compensate” for salaries for new teachers and teachers who have served in the district for several years, Rep. Norgaard said.

“The base level is a starting point that gets multiplied by a lot of different weights to get this 9 percent raise,” House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said.

 

 

5:06 p.m.

The House Republican Caucus started discussing the the K-12 education portion of the budget that includes House Bill 2663.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May2-Heather-Carter

Rep. Heather Carter discusses the K-12 portion of the budget bill on May 2, 2018. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

“If we’re putting more money in here, we want to hold the School Facilities Board accountable,” said Rep David Livingston.

Rep. Maria Syms asked why the legislature did not define who teachers are.

“We did not define that on purpose and the reason we didn’t is because last year when we did define it the school boards hated that and the teachers hated that” Rep. Livingston said. “So now it’s going out to the school boards and the school boards will be responsible for defining that and defining frankly how much each teacher gets or doesn’t get and how much administration and non-certified teachers get.”

“Now, we are out of the business of paying teachers directly and the whole responsibility falls on school boards individually each board,” Livingston said.

Rep. Heather Carter said on the Auditor General’s report it will now show what each districts average teacher salary is.

“That salary is still part of what is called the teacher salary scale and will be reported on that front page and be more easily accessible,” Carter said.

Carter said school boards post their budgets on their websites so that there is time “for the public to come to the school board meetings to talk about how they are using these new dollars, because we want all of this incredible passion to be more involved in their local school districts as well, making sure these dollars are put to the highest and best use with their locally elected school boards.”

Rep. Noel Campbell asked what the reduction of the reduction of the district additional assistance means.

“We are taking the first step of restoring it,” Rep. Carter said.

“The simple answer is we are putting $100 million more dollars back into the formula,” Carter said, “The way it reads in statute looks weird because it is actually a reduction of the reduction.”

Rep. Syms asked what discretion school boards had in distributing the increase to the base level K-12 funding.

“The way the money flows to the school is through a per-pupil funding model,” Carter said. “When the districts go to do their budgets each year, those are the dollars that drive those budget decisions.”

4:44 p.m.

4:25 p.m.

 

3:44 p.m.

3:18 p.m.

The House Rules Committee is now hearing the budget bills.

Rep. Rebecca Rios read the following comments from Noah Karvelis, co-organizer of Arizona Educators United, who had not been allowed to speak in the House Appropriations Committee hearing.

“Before this movement started, lawmakers wouldn’t renew Prop. 301. After we discussed the walk-out, they renewed it,” Rios read from Karvelis’ statement. “Earlier in session the governor said he would only provide $65 million for a 2 percent raise and we’ve moved that amount to $306 million. This K-12 budget now allocates an additional $406 million to K-12 education this year. The Red for Ed movement created the largest increase in school funding since the recession, but it is still not enough. This budget does not go far enough to meet the needs,” Rios read.

“With that, I vote no,” Rios said.

Committe members then voted and afterwards, Rep. T.J. Shope said “by way of explaining my vote, I believe we are in store for several hours ahead of us.”

Shope voted aye.

The vote was 6 aye, 2 nays and 1 absent.

“You have determined that the bills are in constitutional proper form and seeing no other action before the Rules Committee, we are adjourned,” Shope said.

 

2:18 p.m.

The House has gone through just one of the 20 bills on the agenda by 1 p.m. during the Committee of the whole where they discuss amendments to proposed bills and decide whether to approve them and the bills themselves.

House members discussed and commented on SCR 1034 as amended on membership and the independent redistricting commission for over an hour, before approving it 30-24.

10:30 a.m.

Rep. David Livingston moved that Senate Bill 1254 with the Probst amendment be considered which was approved 29-3.

 

9:30 a.m.

“As we go forward in the next 24 hours, let’s think about what will lift up the most people,” said Rep. Athena Salman.

Rep. Gerae Peten spoke to the educators in the gallery before the session began, saying “It is my hope that this effort that you have been a part of will raise Arizona from the bottom to the top.”

“We need to ask, ‘Why are we dismantling our public school system?’ ” said Rep. Isela Blanc. Then she told all the teachers in the gallery, “Know that I stand before you, beside you and with you.”

Rep. Lela Alston thanked the more than 100 educators who spoke at the House Appropriations Hearing, and said afterwards, she learned and met the hundreds of other educators that had packed all the hearing rooms last evening.

“You literally took my breath away, there were more than one of us in tears,” Alston said. “You are the wind beneath our wings. You’re what keeps us going.”

Rep. Rebecca Rios said “This fight is about moving Arizona’s public school children up from dead last in this country in per-pupil public school funding. Our children deserve better.”

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase May2CesarChavez

Rep. Cesar Chavez speaks during the House Floor Session on May 2, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

“This is about people, this is about the livelihood of our state,” said Rep. Cesar Chavez. “We are a part of the past, the present, and the future and it is us –  all 60 members sitting in this chamber and our 30 colleagues across the way to make the best decisions for the people and students across this state.”

“We balance the budget on the backs of our kids every single year, but today this has to stop,” said Rep. Reginald Bolding. “Educational inequity is a real thing. It’s one of the reasons we find ourselves in this position.”

Rep. Mitzi Epstein said “We are fighting for you to fully fund our schools.”

“I love working with teachers, because you are creative problem solvers,” Epstein said. “I’m determined to keep on going so your classrooms are less of a hardship than they are now.”

Rep. Ken Clark encouraged teachers in the gallery to “Stick with us. It’s going to be a long day.”

“The one thing I’ve been hearing is these teachers they are here for their students,” said Rep. Richard Andrade. “I want you to know that there is no teacher who should worry about how to put food on the table once again. They shouldn’t have to worry about what am I going to do because my wife is expecting our first child any day now.  We are here fighting for you, and we will continue to fight for you, because it’s those stories I hear that motivate us even more.”

“I also want to say remember November,” Andrade said.

May 1

Legislators continued to discuss and work on the 10 bills late Tuesday afternoon that make up the $10.4 billion state budget, while teachers, #RedForEd and #MarchForOurLives supporters packed the galleries in the Senate and the House.

Tuesday evening, Arizona Educators United co-organizer Rebecca Garelli, a teacher from the Alhambra Elementary School District, said “If lawmakers do their job and get the budget passed by Thursday, we commit to return to our classrooms then,” during a press conference.

After 4 p.m., the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing began. Senators are now discussing House Bill 2663 – the K-12 portion of the budget.

Gov. Ducey’s proposal to give Arizona teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020 is the largest portion of the budget.

Click here for a presentation shared with educators yesterday.

Click here for a letter to educators from the governor about the deal.

3:00 p.m. discussion on K-12 education portion of the budget

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase K-12Carter

Rep. Heather Carter talks about the K-12 portion of the budget during the House Appropriations Committee on May 1, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Discussion began on House Bill 2663, which is the K-12 education portion of the budget, at 3 p.m. in the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

“This is probably the most critical piece of the budget that I am most excited about,” said Rep. Heather Carter.

Steve Schimpp, deputy director of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said “We’re putting the teacher pay raises into the base level, which is the foundation starting point for the formula.”

“We hear a lot of numbers bantered about on what is our per-pupil funding,” Carter said.”If you really want an apples to apples comparison of what we did compared to last year these are the numbers you want to use.”

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Rep. Randall Friese asks a question during discussion of the K-12 bill in the House Appropriations Committee hearing. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

Rep. Randall Friese asked who is defined as a teacher.

“The short answer is anyone you normally think of as a teacher, but not the librarians, not the counselors, and not substitute teachers,” said Schimpp.

“There is no definition for purposes of eligibility,” Schimpp said.

“We are not putting the definition of teacher in statute,” Carter said.

“How do we say it’s a 9 percent increase, when we don’t say who its for?” asked Friese.

Rep. Lela Alston asked if since the proposed 9 percent raise is based on the average teacher salary, if that means districts with more experienced teachers at higher pay levels would receive less.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase K12LelaAlston

Rep. Lela Alston asks questions about the K-12 portion of the budget. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Laura Miller, director of accounting services at the Office of the Auditor General, said “By putting the additional funding in the base level, then the boards for each school district can allocate that out for the priorities they have.”

“We want to give the flexiblity to the school boards to correct any inequities and salary compression that they may see,” said Rep. Jill Norgaard.

After much discussion on who is defined as a teacher and Rep. Mark Cardenas asking how Murphy Elementary School District was able to spend money it didn’t have if it had a yearly audit, Rep. Russell Bowers asked members for less rhetoric and more focus.

Teachers comment on the K-12 portion of the budget

Naomi Parker, a teacher as Osborn School District said when I said goodbye I should ask you to give money to schools, becuase “first-graders still believe in their leaders.”

Parker said she was skeptical of the plan and asked legislators to please do better.

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Naomi Parker, a teacher from Osborn Elementary School District, speaks before the House Appropriations Committee. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

“We need to make teaching in Arizona a competitive choice,” said another teacher.

“We have empty classrooms in Arizona we have a retention problem in Arizona, my role impacts those classrooms specifically and I want to make sure we fill those rooms with quality teachers,” said Aidan Balt, who teaches half-time and coaches teachers half-time.

“There are parts of this budget I can support, but a lack of revenue is not one of them,” another teacher said.

“I want my eighth-graders to have a fully funded classroom in their last four years of school,” said a teacher from Desert Shadows Middle School.

Emmanuel Blanco, a teacher, asked if legislators could adjust the bill accordingly in this situation.

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Katrina Juarez, a special education teacher in Madison Elementary School District, speaks to legislators Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

Katrina Juarez, a special education teacher in Madison Elementary School District, said she had a fourth-grade student drop out of school because he didn’t have the support and resources he needed to succeed.

When Rep. Charlene Fernandez asked if Juarez would be included in the pay raise as a special education teacher, Juarez said she was unsure if she would be included or whether the speech pathologist, occupational therapist and other support team members would be.

A teacher who said she had 58 kids on her roster told legislators that “my kids do not deserve to think that ceiling tiles falling down and roaches in the classroom are normal things.”

Julie Robbins, a school social worker, told legislators in case you’re not familiar with what school social workers do, “we equip students to be ready to learn.”

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A teacher speaks to legislators on May 1, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Another teacher asked legislators to match her committment to education and revise the bill to better support students.

“Using District Additional Assistance to fund raises for support staff means we’re taking from one group to give to another and that’s not right,” said a teacher who works in the Tolleson Elementary School District.

“I feel like we are working on a budget that doesn’t fit our state,” said Sarah James, a teacher. “How can you say you’re passing a budget that helps education when you don’t have a revenue source to support that?”

A kindergarten teacher said when she first walked into her classroom 10 years ago, the only thing in there were tables and chairs and none of the manipulatives or other resources that help students learn, and that’s not acceptable.

“I need to know that my educational funding source is sustainable and not taking funds from other areas,” said a 12-year-old student from Tucson.

Legislature approves budget, including teacher pay increase K12Zena-Weinberger

A teacher speaks to legislators about the K-12 education portion of the budget on May 1. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

“We should not be giving away state income when we are in a funding crisis,” said Leslie Hall, a Tucson teacher for the past 20 years.

“You’re forcing us to work extra jobs. This is my fourth job,” said a civics teacher. “We are watching you.”

Carolyn Conti, an aide at Wilson Elementary School District, said she passed a McDonald’s hiring at $9.28 and hour and starting pay for an aide at her school district is between $9 and $11 an hour, which is just not right. She urged legislators to reject the bill to work on it further and find a sustainable funding source.

Sue Ann Fry, a veteran Gilbert educator, who said she did not support this proposal, asked legislators to do the right thing, noting what “We could be the hero of public education.”

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A 12-year-old student talks to legislators about the K-12 portion of the budget. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television.

Rep. Bowers responded that Arizona is seventh in the nation on the portion of our budget that is spent on education.

“I’m in it, my parents are in it, but when I look at legislators, I ask where do we get the money,” Bowers said.

Still, legislators need to make better choices, and they need to be better than this, Fry said.

“I oppose this bill,” said a teacher from Puente de Hozho who works with Dine students in a third-grade classroom.

“I grew up on the reservation so I know what lack of funding looks like,” she said. “It hasn’t changed throughout my career. I’m in my 16th year of teaching. I just want to be here to be a voice for the voiceless.”

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A third-grade teacher at Puente de Hozho tells Legislators she knows what a lack of funding looks like on May 1, 2018. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

During testing, she said “We got crackers and peanut butter for our classroom from the food pantry. So I had to call my husband to bring snacks for our classroom and I just wanted to make sure our kids had what they deserve for our testing.”

Education organizations and advocates comment on the bill

Gretchen Jacobs with the JTED consortium thanked legislators for funding JTEDs at 100 percent in the budget.

Megan Dell’Artino with the Education Finance Reform Group said they support the budget for “the restoration of district additional assistance and the funding going toward teacher salaries.”

Dell’Artino also noted that this budget has more money for district schools than they’ve seen in 12 years.

“The original cuts happened during the recession and we are now restoring those cuts,” Dell’Artino said.

“This budget is not perfect, but it is progress,” Dell’Artino said, noting they will be back next year to work on more aspects of education funding.

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Chris Kotterman with ASBA speaks to the House Appropriations Committee on the K-12 portion of the budget on May 1, 2018. Photo courtesy of Arizona Capitol Television

Chris Kotterman, director of governmental relations for Arizona School Boards Association, said “We are standing in support of the spending plan as outlined today.”

“This is a significant investment in K-12 education above inflation in fiscal 2019 and promised investments in 2020 and 2021 that are pre-appropriated,” Kotterman said. “What it is not is a panacea, and I think we all acknowledge that.”

“But when we talk about how to properly fund education, our position is that the proper way to fund public education is to increase the per-student base level – that’s done here,” Kotterman said. “It’s to properly and fully fund the statutory funding formula, which we’re on the way to in this plan.”

“We feel that is something we should advocate for, and put into place in our public school system as quickly as possible,” Kotterman said.

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Steve Schimpp, deputy director of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, discusses the K-12 education portion of the budget with the House Appropriations Committee on May 1, 2018. Photo by Arizona Capitol Television

“This is a committment by the legislature – if the bill passes as is – to add to the formula every year, inflate it and grow it every year,” Kotterman said.

Rep. Lela Alston asked Kotterman for his concerns about the sustainability of the plan.

“ASBA does agree that we have a problem with the demands of our public school system relative to the amount of revenue that we ultimately have available as a state,” Kotterman said. “However, we do feel pretty comfortable that this spend is within the realm of possibility.”

“We are in support of this legislation,” said Chuck Essigs, director of governmental relations for Arizona Association of School Business Officials. “We think it does a good job of providing additional resources to schools, and the thing we really like about it is it’s in the base level so school districts each year can project what they’re funding’s going to be going forward. They can do some long-range planning and the Legislature has to fund that and give it an annual inflation increase, which has been cited by the courts.”

“We support the renewal of district additional assistance and we like that  because districts can plan long term,” Essigs said. “What your going to do in restoring that is listed each year for the next five years so district’s know how much they’re going to have coming in. We are very supportive of that.”

“What is clear is that this is an unprecedented investment in education,” said Jay Kaprosy with the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

Mark Joraanstad, executive director of Arizona School Administrators said “Teachers are the key factor to students success.”

Joraanstad said his organization supports the bill, which will allow school boards to provide wage increases for teachers and other essential personnel as well as needs such as software supplies and building maintenance.

“We look forward to further years of these investments in public education,” Joraanstad said.

Legislators vote on the bill

At 6:20 p.m., legislators began to vote on HB 2663 – the K-12 education portion of the budget.

“Teachers are risking everything and the legislators are still not listening to them,” said Rep. Mark Cardenas, who voted no.

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Regina Cobb

Today we heard from 150 teachers, of all those messaged that we received we tried to address them,” said Rep. Regina Cobb who voted for the bill. “$1.5 billion is not a Band-Aid. This is an impressive amount going into education.”

“While this plan is unprecedented, we can do better,” said Rep. Randall Friese, who voted no on the bill. “We need to create streams of revenue to support our public schools.”

Rep. Jill Norgaard said “There are a lot of inequities in our school funding formulas, I think this budget is a good start to changing that.” and “while this budget is not perfect, I think it addresses many of the things brought forward in committees.”

Rep. Norgaard voted for the bill.

“Now, we’re looking at massive teacher pay in the base,” said Rep. Heather Carter who voted for the bill. “I’ve been teaching since 1994, and one of the coolest thing about these last couple of days at the capitol is that my friends, my students, my colleagues are here.”

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Rep. Ken Clark during the discussion of the K-12 education bill. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Rep. Ken Clark said “We have the wealth in this state to take care of our priorities.”

Then Rep. Clark addressed the teachers who came to the committee meeting.

“Now that you’ve seen what we deal with here, be ready for the next steps, and you know what to do to fix it,” Rep. Clark said and voted no.

Minority Whip Charlene Fernandez said “Budgets are a statement of our values, and I don’t think this is what we value.”

“This seems too pie in the sky instead of creating that bigger pie of revenue,” Fernandez said. “The budget is a statement of our values and my value is on public school teachers and the work that they are doing. I vote no.”

Seven committee members voted aye – or for the bill, while five committee members voted no – or against the bill – and two committee members were absent.

Committee members called for a 15-minute recess and then they will return to work on last bill that contains money appropriated for all agencies.

At 6:30 p.m., the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the K-12 education portion of the budget by a 7-3 vote and the rest of the budget bills by 7:25 p.m.

The Senate Rules committee will hear the budget bills in the morning.

The House Appropriations Committee was still discussing budget bills at 7:50 p.m.