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Arizona leaders agree teachers need a raise. But they can't agree on how to do it

The governor, state treasurer and Arizona lawmakers can’t agree on how much to spend on teacher pay raises.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and legislative Republicans want to use money from the state land trust to fund teacher pay raises

Hobbs wants to draw down 8.9% in order to boost pay.

But Republican Treasurer Kimberly Yee, who oversees the state’s revenue investments, has warned that lawmakers should only take out around 5% from the land trust fund.

Sen. Ken Bennett (R-Prescott), chair of the Senate Education Committee, says he expects everyone will eventually agree on something closer to 6.9% draw — the amount Republicans in the Senate are advocating for. 

Senate Republicans estimate that would grant teachers, but only teachers, a $4,000 raise — unlike Hobbs, who wants to raise the salaries for all school support staff, too.

Whatever plan gets through the Legislature, Arizona voters will get the final say on the raises on the November ballot. The legislative proposals are designed to renew Proposition 123, a measure that voters passed in 2017 to fund education-related expenses. 

Prop. 123 allocated 2.5% of the state land trust fund for education.

Boosting teacher pay is one of a handful of issues left for state lawmakers and the governor to address this legislative session, in addition to negotiations on a new state spending plan. Senate President Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) said last week he hopes the session will end by the beginning of May. 

House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria) did not respond to a request for comment. And Hobbs declined to comment on budget negotiations Monday morning.

“We are very early in the process and I'm really not going to talk publicly about where we're negotiating because I think that is a recipe for derailing the process, but we're very early,” she said.

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.