Concerns from a Thoughtful Voter
I would like to see a good economic analysis so I can respond meaningfully with my vote.
Concern: First I would like to be assured that all Arizonans have recovered sufficiently from the financial crisis that they would be able to support these demands.
Response: It is tough to assure that ALL Arizonans have recovered. However, how about signs of a healthy economy?
Arizona’s growth is outpacing the national growth. https://www.azeconomy.org/data/forecast-data/
Plus, our population is growing as are the number of jobs. https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2017/02/21/arizona-economy-population/98197566/
Concern: Secondly the demand for a 20% salary increase is still quite out of line with the raises most of us are getting in the range of maybe 2% to 5%.
Response: If one only looks at the number 20%, it is shocking. This number would put us back where teachers were paid a decade ago.
I’ll try to explain as clearly as possible. This gets complicated quickly, and I’d be happy to share all of the background information. Here’s the situation:
Due to pay freezes, lack of cost of living increases over the past decade, and increased employee contributions to “benefits,” teachers are making less take-home money than a decade ago, without adjusting for inflation!
The gross salaries have increased slightly the past two or three years, 1% to 4% depending on where a teacher works, but that is the increase for an entire decade. Inflation has far outpaced this.
Using the government’s inflation adjustment calculator teachers made around $10,000 more in starting pay a decade ago than they do today. That, in combination with years of pay freezes, has veteran teachers often earning less than brand-new teachers with similar educations.
Concern: Thirdly it seems when demanding equivalence with other locales we should verify that cost of living stats are also equivalent with those of those other locales.
Response: This one is actually pretty easy to answer. We are 20th cheapest in the nation. So, right around the middle. Oklahoma, by comparison, is 3rd.
Concern: Finally many of us are now severely underemployed as our jobs in high tech moved to Asia – after ten years working retail a job for which I am qualified finally opened at a salary of 20% less than I was making in 2008. I have yet to see a thorough economic analysis of these issues but as a supporter of education I would love to see one.
Response: This last point is painful for many, and I am very sensitive to this line of thinking. The biggest difference here is public versus private. Education is a public concern and there’s not been a shift in technology or economy (sustained shift negative shift) to cause the education funding issue.
To see an overview of the nature of the situation in Arizona with education and to see why it is “suddenly” a crisis, this 5 minute video can help explain. All of the data is verifiable and I can provide references for any questions one might have.