Gov. Doug Ducey let legislators know today he wants a budget – now.
Ducey, playing hardball with state lawmakers to get his teacher-pay raise plan passed, vetoed 10 Republican-sponsored House bills in an attempt to force the legislature to finish the state budget.
The message included in each of the 10 veto letters reads the same.
“Please send me a budget that gives teachers a 20-percent pay raise by 2020 and restores additional assistance,” the letter reads. “Our teachers have earned this raise. It’s time to get it done.”
The vetoed bills were not particularly contentious. Among those struck down, the governor vetoed bills that would have codified provisions for electric bicycles, created additional protections for sexual assault victims and authorized the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family to work with various agencies to teach young children about the dangers of illegal drugs, alcohol and marijuana.
Ducey’s veto rampage comes a day after the Arizona Education Association and Arizona Educators United announced teachers will go on strike April 26. Lawmakers could pass a budget before Thursday if it is introduced in the Legislature on Monday.
Teachers have demanded a 20-percent pay hike, no new tax cuts and competitive pay for support staff like school counselors and custodians.
Ducey has proposed to give teachers a 20-percent pay bump by 2020. While most Republican lawmakers appear to be on board with Ducey’s plan, there has been some consternation surrounding funding details.
Despite the 10 vetoes, Ducey didn’t clear all the legislation on his desk. He still has six House bills and five Senate bills awaiting action.
Ducey struck down more bills on Friday in one day than he has dismissed all session, bringing the total number of bills vetoed to 16. The governor’s vetoes this session have surpassed the number of bills he vetoed in 2016 and 2017.
A bill by Rep. Paul Mosley, R-Lake Havasu City, was one of the casualties of Ducey’s onslaught. The bill that would have allowed real estate agents or brokers to complete their training online was the only bill of Mosley’s that made it to Ducey’s desk.
Obviously, Ducey was sending a message, but the way he went about it isn’t going to win him any support, Mosley said. He’s telling House lawmakers that he doesn’t want to work with them, he said.
Ducey is the one who threw lawmakers under the bus by forcing them to find a way to pay for his proposed pay raise for teachers, Mosley said.
“He’s basically trying to be the CEO of the state instead of the executive. … He was the CEO of Cold Stone so obviously he thinks it’s OK to treat people like they’re not important,” he said.
Ducey’s veto spree came hours after his spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato, said the governor’s office received reports that House leadership planned to pay for the teacher raises with the increased district additional assistance dollars Ducey promised schools. The governor’s office finds the House GOP plan “very troubling,” Scarpinato wrote in an email to reporters.
House Speaker J.D. Mesnard floated a teacher pay plan last week that would have usurped from the district and charter additional assistance to pay for teacher raises. Talk of Mesnard’s plan was quieted when Ducey unveiled his own plan.
On Friday, Mesnard denied pushing back against Ducey’s pay plan in favor of one that would reroute other education funding to teachers raises. Calling the accusation inaccurate, Mesnard said the Legislature is working to make all of the puzzle pieces fit so the state can give teacher raises and a bump in district and charter additional assistance.
“We certainly can afford one or the other. We can afford parts of both. But right now we’re trying to figure out how to go the full distance and fully fund both,” Mesnard said.
Mesnard did not comment on the governor’s vetoes.
The governor’s actions caught House GOP leaders by surprise.
“We try real hard to send up good policy bills,” said House Majority Leader John Allen. “These were vetoed because of politics, not policy.”
Bills vetoed by the governor Friday:
HB2089 – Carter
HB2121 – Leach
HB2207 – Grantham
HB2260 – Toma
HB2263 – Toma
HB2266 – Thorpe
HB2290 – Cobb
HB2398 – Thorpe
HB2399 – Mosley
HB2471 – Leach
Capitol Times Reporter Paulina Pineda and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services contributed to this report.