How We Can Raise Teacher Pay Without Raising Taxes
Raising Teacher Pay Without Raising Taxes
Arizona pays teachers less than every other state in the country but one. Republicans say it’s because they just don’t know where they’d get the money.
That’s odd. They manage to find plenty of money for private prisons, subsidies for corporations, and pay raises for Governor Ducey’s staff.
They're right about one thing: if we want to raise teacher pay, we need to come up with the money. And ending Arizona's expensive habit of doling out hundreds of millions in tax dollars to huge commercial enterprises would have been a good place to start.
Corporate welfare comes at the direct expense of our teachers and kids, and a recent bill before the Arizona house would have banned this disgraceful practice -- but every single Democrat voted against it in committee.
Governor Ducey promised to raise teacher pay this year and delivered a laughable $400 bonus. Meanwhile, the majority of his staff received raises, often to the tune of about $40,000 -- more than many teachers make in a year.
The people of Arizona have made it incredibly clear that teacher pay is a priority, but all we get from the government is excuses. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to this problem.
The problem with private prisons
Arizona is one spot shy of dead last in teacher pay, but we lead the nation in special deals for private prison corporations that guarantee 90 to 100 percent occupancy.
Maybe that’s why all non-violent offenders in Arizona are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Arizona is literally the only state in the country to require this.
Teachers are unpaid and classes are overfilled -- yet prisons are stuffed to the brim. Arizona is a state that loves locking people up; we have the fifth highest incarceration rate in the country.
We spend more than six times as much on incarceration per non-violent inmate than we do on instruction per K-12 student. That’s just wrong. Why are we more focused on sending our kids to jail than to school?
Perhaps it has something to do with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that private prison special interest groups poured into PACs to kickstart Governor Ducey’s campaign.
Here’s how we can fix it
Pretending teacher pay isn’t a problem is unacceptable -- and as governor, I will put an end to the crony deals that ruin non-violent offenders’ lives at the expense of our teachers and our kids.
If elected, my first priority in office will be a 3-step plan to promptly generate $200 million in new funding to pay teachers what they deserve -- without taxing the food you put on your table to pay for it.
This plan would generate an average raise of ten times what Governor Ducey managed to deliver -- without raising income taxes, property taxes, or any other taxes for people who don’t use cannabis:
1. Legalize the adult use of cannabis in Arizona
A multi-billion dollar cannabis industry is fleeing Arizona to neighboring states where adult use is already legal, and it’s costing Arizona hundreds of thousands of jobs -- not to mention hundreds of millions in tax revenue to support things we actually want, like better pay for our teachers and smaller class sizes for our kids.
2. Institute a 9% sales tax on the sale of cannabis
In 2017, the cannabis industry in Colorado generated $1.5 billion in sales. Arizona’s population is actually 40 percent higher than Colorado’s, but let’s just say for the sake of the example that our industry generates a comparable volume of sales the first year. There’s the first $135 million for teacher pay right there.
3. Require the Department of Corrections to notify (non-violent only) cannabis offenders that they can petition the court for release and record expungement
Arizona spends $215 million per year keeping non-violent drug offenders behind bars to satisfy crony deals with private prison corporations at our kids’ expense.
Releasing just a third of them would free up another $65 million for teacher pay -- resulting in an average salary increase of 10 times what Governor Ducey managed to deliver.
The bottom line
It’s time to end the Drug War in Arizona and refocus spending on education. It’s time to shut down the violent black market and put drug dealers out of business.
It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer money on indefinite punishment for non-violent crime, and it’s time to pay teachers appropriately for the invaluable service they provide.
It’s time to let teachers teach and keep education funding in the classroom. Let’s encourage innovation over incarceration because better education benefits everyone.
I’m Kevin McCormick, and I’m running for governor of Arizona to empower the pursuit of happiness. I am passionate about education reform and criminal justice reform -- and confident that we can finally put partisanship aside this year to solve both problems at once.
I’m running to represent the people of Arizona, and I'm the only candidate who refuses to accept a dime from PACs and special interests who'd rather send our kids to jail than to school.
I'm running because I'm the father of two little girls who attend public school. My kids deserve better, and so do yours.
And that’s why I need your help. If you agree that cronyism is wrong for Arizona, wrong for our teachers, and wrong for our kids, then please click below to donate $5 to our Clean Elections campaign to get a voice for change on the ballot and in the debates: