PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Arizona teachers are calling for a big bump in their own pay after news that Gov. Doug Ducey has showered hefty raises to his own staff while signing off on only a 1% raise for teachers.
Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said a 20% raise would make Arizona competitve with neighboring states, and that would be just a start.
"Even if we get this 20% raise for our teachers, which will end the crisis, it still has Arizona under national average for teacher pay, said Thomas.
Many teachers in Arizona reportedly earn a salary in the $30,000s to low $40,000 range a year. Meanwhile, teachers in states like Utah and New Mexico make $10,000 to $15,000 more, per year.
Amy Ball teaches kindergarten in the Madison District, and she has heard stories from one of her teacher friends.
"She confided in me she adds water to her milk so it will last longer, a tip she learned from another teacher," said Ball. "She worries something will happen to her car or one of her kids. She has already pulled her purse strings so tightly, she doesn't know how she could cut it any more."
The Governor's Office sent a statement to FOX 10 Phoenix that reads:
"Today's press conference is a completely partisan exercise, based on flawed data and misinformation. The Governor will continue to fight for higher teacher pay, in any way he can."
Officials with the Governor's Office also said while some employees in the office got pay raises, the staff size was cut.
The teacher's union, however, said the facts are the facts, and until they get a meaningful raise, Arizona teachers will continue to leave for other states, where they can make more money.
"We do not invest in teachers," said Thomas. "Can't keep high quality teachers in class so kids can be successful."
If the Governor and the Legislature don't work together to come up with a way to pay teachers more, officials with the Arizona Education Association said it will appeal to voters to put a pay raise on the ballot.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.