Arizona teachers are poised to follow the footsteps of their colleagues in a growing nationwide movement. Arizona’s teachers are among the lowest-paid in the country, dead last when compared to cost of living. Raising these teachers out of poverty is as simple as reducing the state’s corporate welfare.
Q: How do we pay for a 20% teacher pay raise?
A. Reverse the irresponsible corporate tax giveaways.
When you adjust for inflation, corporations paid $617 million less in taxes in 2016 than 2007 – Which just so happens to be about as much as we need for a 20% raise pic.twitter.com/fBRn8CBShm
— AZ Economic Progress (@AzEconCenter) March 29, 2018
Arizona lawmakers have responded to the issue by saying teachers have second jobs to pay for their luxurious lifestyles.
“They want to pay for a boat. They want a bigger house,” said Republican state House Majority Leader John Allen. “And [teachers] have a long summer. What a great opportunity for people like us and teachers to go out and get a second job. Let’s all get a second job this summer.”
Raising teacher pay by 20 percent ($628 million) is no cheap proposition. But reversing some of Arizona’s corporate tax breaks could easily fund education. The Arizona Center for Economic Progress has a plan to correct where it feels corporate welfare has gone too far.
Since the Great Recession in 2008, America has seen a sharp drop in education funding, and Arizona has seen a sharp drop in corporate tax revenue. The $610 million Arizona gave away in corporate welfare would almost completely pay for teachers to have a living wage.
But, the disinvestment in education is a national trend. So is the response.
In Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia, teachers have protested for better treatment and pay in recent months. Despite some success, teachers still face dire situations, from pension cuts and a shoestring work budget to bigger, shocking troubles.
A Texan teacher died from the flu in February because she couldn’t afford her $116 copay. And rather than pay teachers a wage that could afford rent, Miami is looking at building teacher dormitories. And across the board, teachers are paid 60 percent less than similarly trained professionals.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.