Arizona Teachers Return To Capitol Before Walkout Ends

Arizona Teachers Return To Capitol Before Walkout Ends”

The Arizona Senate has passed a $10.4 billion state budget plan that provides more than $300 million in raises for numerous state's striking teachers after working all night.

Thursday morning's signing came as the state House continued to debate other parts of the $10.4 billion spending plan but after the Senate concluded work on the plan.

Teachers have been on a statewide strike that could extend into Thursday even if lawmakers pass the budget.

One of those large districts, in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, announced shortly after the budget passed that schools would reopen Friday.

Thursday was also a disappointing moment for numerous demonstrating teachers.

All that remained, it seemed, was for the state's Legislature to pass the budget which includes the measure for a teacher pay increase.

They're also pushing lawmakers for other considerations such as a 10 percent raise for support staff.

The walkout launched Thursday, shutting down most public schools.

The proposal also forces $18 million in increases to local property taxes, mainly in Tucson and Phoenix, by cutting payments counties use to backfill high property taxes prompted by school desegregation agreements.

Arizona lawmakers pulled an all-nighter Thursday to enact a budget that provides big raises for numerous state's striking teachers, potentially ending the five-day walkout that kept more than a million public school students out of the classroom.

"We know that it has always been that we wanted to pass the budget today so we can give teachers the opportunity to spend time with their kids in school", said state Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix.

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Many schools plan to re-open Thursday, and it remains unclear if the developments at the Capitol will change that.

Educators packed the state Senate gallery on the fifth day of the walkout Wednesday to hear the budget plan proposed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican legislators brought to the floor.

The package fell short of demands for more overall school funding.

The bill was approved Wednesday afternoon with support only from majority Republicans.

The grassroots group called Arizona Educators United that called the strike was created in early March as a wave of teacher protests over low pay and school funding swept across the nation. Randall Friese read Noah Karvelis' remarks where he praised striking teachers for getting big wins in the budget.

"But they didn't." Karvelis said in a letter sent to supporters that was cosigned by Joseph H. Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association.

The Arizona Senate and House have begun debating a $10.4 billion state budget plan providing more than $300 million for raises for numerous state's striking teachers.

The strike, which began last week, has led to the closure of schools across 110 districts.

"I commend you for being here", Farnsworth said. But the Republican-controlled House and Senate hadn't started its budget debate, although leaders still hoped to act on the $10.4 billion budget package late Wednesday.

Organizers of the strike had called for classes to resume Thursday if the budget passed. In fact, legislative budget staffers acknowledged Tuesday that, even with all the money the governor says the plan will put into K-12 education, per-student funding on an inflation-adjusted basis will still be less by 2021 than it was in 2008.

Organizers said the walkout was a success due to the 150,000 people that hit the streets during the four days in downtown Phoenix and increased amount of money promised for education.

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