STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs released the following statement on the lack of progress toward resolving the teacher walkout:
“Yesterday, as well over 50,000 Arizona educators, parents and students gathered at the Capitol, no action was taken to resolve or even discuss the education funding crisis that brought us to this point. While Democratic lawmakers gave impassioned floor speeches urging action to properly fund public schools, Republican lawmakers chided our dedicated teachers for standing up for themselves and our governor hid in his tower giving carefully scripted interviews about his unsustainable plan. As the rally reached its zenith at the front doors of the legislature, our Senate and House majority leaders quietly gaveled floor to a close and slipped out the back door for three days away from the work we were elected to complete. Shame on them.
"Let me be very clear, Senate Democrats would be happy to be in session all day today and into the weekend if we were working across the aisle, and with education leaders, on a sustainable plan to fund the 20 percent pay raise our educators deserve. The devil is in the details and we support this pay increase only if all classroom and instructional support personnel are included in a raise that is responsibly funded. Numbers matter. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that Governor Ducey’s plan would lead to a $265 million cash shortfall in FY’20, growing to $302 million in FY’21.
"The biggest reason that this plan has not already been enacted is that our Republican legislative colleagues can also do the math. The governor’s rosy revenue estimates, fund sweeps and starving of other budget priorities is not sustainable over time or what the voters want. Passing this budget on the back of critical care providers for our developmentally disabled community, cutting funding to our universities, not protecting KidsCare in future years and continuing to shift state responsibilities to our cities, counties and towns is both fiscally and morally irresponsible. And increasing our sales tax to the nation's highest save California would put an exponentially greater burden on Arizona's poor and middle class. They shouldn't have to pay for tax cuts this state has given away to corporations and the wealthy.
"My Democratic colleagues and I are here to serve the people of Arizona, not on our schedule but on theirs, and they are demanding action now. We are, and always have been, eager to work with whoever is willing to find meaningful solutions, not simply to recite talking points at us. Working with people who share different viewpoints than your own can be challenging, but the results from doing so are what has made our nation and our state a place where people from all over the world yearn to live.
"That's democracy. Let's give it a try.”