In what has to be one of the biggest fake news stories of the year, the local media has decided to target the Ducey administration for pay raises that were provided to members of his staff. According the Arizona Republic, since 2015 Governor Ducey has went on a wild spending spree rewarding political allies in his office yet giving paltry raises to school teachers.
It was a damning report with allegations of cronyism, taxpayer waste and hypocrisy, while subtly digging at his alleged lack of support for public education. One small problem: the entire report was factually wrong and designed to mislead readers on how teachers’ salaries are funded in Arizona.
If the reporters had taken the time to review the full executive budget, they would have discovered that overall spending has not increased in the Governor’s office since 2008. Even more damning, they have actually reduced the number of employees in the executive branch. So, the real story is Governor Ducey has restrained spending in his office and reduced the number of government employees by hiring and retaining better talent. Only in the minds of the media and the liberal Arizona Education Association would it matter that Governor Ducey decided to use the same amount of money on fewer, more qualified workers.
What about the lack of teacher pay raises and education funding? What the reporters didn’t include in the story is the fact that state education funding has actually increased the last 3 years. More importantly, when it comes to teacher salaries, the legislature and Governor have very little control over where the money is spent. Most of the decisions related to teacher pay is made by school boards at the local level, not at the state.
It is why 10 years ago lawmakers and the AEA publicly complained that school districts were not giving raises even after the legislature specifically included teacher pay increases in the state budget. It is why some school districts, following the passage of Proposition 123 last year (which increased annual K-12 funding by $350 million), approved teacher salaries across the board while others did not.
The same problem exists under Proposition 301, the 6/10 of a cent sales tax dedicated to education. Rather than have most of the money going to the classroom as intended, Arizona is now seeing a record amount going toward administration costs.
If the media is so concerned about pay raises and bloated salaries, perhaps they could investigate how Prop 301 money has been spent and the kind of salaries and pay raises administrative staff in K-12 have received. Perhaps they could ask the teachers’ union why they are not holding press conferences to demand school administrators take a pay cut or require more money go into the classroom.
This will never happen, of course. The journalist class would rather push a false narrative that conforms with their left leaning bias than challenge their preconceived positions and report on the facts. It’s no wonder that their favorability ratings and credibility is in the toilet.
Fewer people than ever believe what the media says, and fake news stories like this only confirm their suspicion.