The Latest: Arizona teachers press for action by lawmakers

The Latest: Arizona teachers press for action by lawmakers
The Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on Arizona’s teacher walkout (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

Organizers of an Arizona teacher walkout say they’re ready to show up to the state Capitol to get the governor and legislative leaders to listen to their demands.

Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said Thursday’s march to the Capitol is necessary after attempts at talks have been ignored. He also said organizers may have to consider a ballot initiative for education funding if lawmakers don’t come up with a plan on their own.

The walkout is expected to draw tens of thousands of teachers to downtown Phoenix.

Educators across the state voted in favor of the walkout despite Republican Gov. Doug Ducey offering a 20 percent raise by 2020. Teachers say it didn’t address increased funding for students.

Republican legislative leaders and Ducey say they won’t bend to teacher demands for more than raises.

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5:30 p.m.

Republican leaders of the Arizona House and Senate say they won’t bend to teacher demands for more than raises despite a planned strike.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said Wednesday they are focused on passing a budget that implements Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to boost teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020. Teachers also want to see increased support staff pay, an overall boost in school funding and an end to tax cuts until per-pupil spending reached the national average. Ducey is also refusing to bend.

Tens of thousands of educators are planning to strike beginning Thursday and rally at the Capitol.

Yarbrough says the Legislature will remain open as they continue work in a state budget that boosts teacher pay. He said he hopes teachers will return to the classroom. Mesnard says whatever happens, teachers will see a “substantial” pay boost.

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1:50 p.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is pushing his plan to give educators a 20 percent raise by 2020 a day before an unprecedented statewide teacher walkout.

He told Phoenix news station KSAZ-TV on Wednesday that he’s committed to getting his plan passed. He also said he’s hopeful lawmakers vote on it as soon as possible.

Teachers overwhelmingly voted for the statewide walkout starting Thursday after saying Ducey’s plan doesn’t add enough funding for other public education needs.

Some Republican legislative leaders have said they’re concerned that Ducey’s plan relies on rosy revenue projections that might not be viable.

Ducey says he has met with teachers and business leaders, but organizers of the so-called #RedforEd movement said they personally haven’t heard from the governor.

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7:40 a.m.

A day ahead of a scheduled walk off the job, Arizona teachers are holding walk-in protests outside public schools.

The expected walk off Thursday is an unprecedented action in the conservative state with few union protections.

Wednesday’s walk-in protests are the latest staged by a grass-roots teachers group, Arizona Educators United. The group plans a rally at the state Capitol on Thursday when the walkout starts.

The group says in a Twitter post that between 30,000 and 50,000 are expected to participate in the Thursday job action with 90 school districts expected to shut down.

The teacher walkout beginning could keep hundreds of thousands of students out of school indefinitely.

The state’s nearly 200 public school districts can try to keep schools open or close them.

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