GOP candidates demonstrate contempt for their GOP primary voters: no debates!

There has been an interesting reveal from the The Arizona Republic fka The Arizona Republican this week.

Its editorial board is currently conducting interviews with candidates for the purpose of making primary endorsements.

It turns out the GOP candidates for governor and U.S. Senate are willing to meet with the editors of the The Arizona Republican, but they are not willing to debate one another in the GOP primary.

These GOP candidates demonstrate contempt for their GOP primary voters by refusing to debate. The Arizona Republican should withhold its endorsement of any candidate who refuses to debate his or her opponent and demonstrate such contempt for primary voters. (The Arizona Republican will, of course, endorse the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry approved establishment candidates Doug Ducey and Martha McSally, because rubber-stamping the chamber endorsed candidates is what they have always done).

This is why editorial endorsements carry so little weight these days.

In any case, Gov. Doug Ducey, challenger Ken Bennett meet for first time before Arizona GOP primary:

In what will likely be their only face-to-face discussion of policy issues before the Republican primary election, Gov. Doug Ducey and his challenger, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, exchanged polite verbal jabs Friday during a meeting with The Arizona Republic editorial board.

Ducey has declined to debate Bennett at two forums next week: one co-hosted by The Republic and Arizona PBS, and another sponsored by the Clean Elections Commission.

Bennett said the statewide teacher walkout came about because educators didn’t trust Ducey.

Bennett said that after Ducey passed Proposition 123, a measure that tapped into the state land trust to boost education funding, educators were told more steps would be taken.

Bennett said the next step was a proposal of a pay raise of 2 percent doled out over five years, which the governor proposed in his 2017 state of the state speech. The Legislature accelerated the proposal, making it 2 percent over two years.

“I think (the walkout) showed that a lot of the education community had lost faith in the state leader,” Bennett said.

Ducey disputed that, saying that he had boosted education funding in the state since before the RedForEd movement threatened a walkout. He said engineering and shepherding the pay raise package through the Legislature was testament to his leadership skills.

“I think any good leader listens,” he said. “They learn, depending on what the situation is on the ground, and they lead. They act with that information.”

Riiight. Unfortunately, these two yahoos were interview before this report in The Republic. You can bet they were never asked about this. -6% to 19%: Arizona teachers are getting raises, although they aren’t all 10 percent:

The plan Gov. Doug Ducey proposed and the state Legislature passed aimed to provide school districts and charter schools enough funds to give teachers across Arizona an average pay raise of 10 percent.

Except, in reality, there is no such thing as an average school district or charter.

The actual raises given to teachers, as reported by the districts and charter schools, vary greatly across Arizona.

According to district and charter financial data reported to the Arizona Department of Education, some schools reported giving average raises of 19 percent. Others reported raises as low as 3 percent. One school reported giving a raise of just over 1 percent.

One district, the tiny Blue Elementary School District in Greenlee County, reported a salary increase of -6 percent because a veteran teacher retired and was replaced at a lower salary by a teacher with less experience.

Practically all Arizona districts and charters reported salary increases for teachers, though those figures widely differed.

* * *

About 120 Arizona traditional and vocational districts — including six out of the state’s 10 largest school districts — reported that their teachers are getting raises averaging 10 percent or more.

For charters, about 100 charter holders reported giving average teacher pay raises of 10 percent or more.

Among the state’s smallest districts, only 18 out of 47, or about 38 percent of districts, gave out 10 percent raises.

The budget the Legislature approved and Ducey signed included $306 million intended to go toward teacher pay.

The law contained a sentence explaining that the intent of the money was to fund teacher raises. But there was no mandate. The district or charter governing boards determine how much raises to give their teachers each year.

The law required schools, for the first time, to report to the Arizona Department of Education the increase in average teacher salaries from last year.

As of mid-July, the majority of the state’s school districts and charter holders had submitted their budget reports to the state. The deadline is Nov. 30.

The Arizona Department of Education has not yet audited the data the schools submitted, according to department spokesman Stefan Swiat.

The data indicates that some schools incorrectly reported their teacher salary information to the state.

For example, some schools appear to report their entire teacher payroll as the “average salary for all teachers.” A few schools list what appear to be very low salary averages.

Promising a 10 percent raise

The state funding was part of a three-year pay-raise package Ducey announced in April, as teachers statewide were threatening a walkout.

His plan called for a 10 percent raise this year, incorporating a 1 percent bonus given in 2017. That would be followed by a 5 percent raise in each of the coming years. The result, he said, would be an average 20 percent raise by the year 2020, lending the plan its name 20×2020.

But there will be vast differences in how those raises are felt by different districts and teachers.

Only 17 teachers in the Phoenix Union High School District will receive a 10 percent raise this year, reflecting about 1 percent of all high-school teachers in the district.

Meanwhile, the sole teacher responsible for a handful of kids in the one-room schoolhouse in the remote mountain community of Crown King will receive a 19 percent raise, bringing her salary up to the high-$30,000s.

The reasons for the disparate distribution of the raises are complicated and varied, based on the unique situations of each district, large and small, urban and rural.

The pay-raise plan allowed for this, placing the money in the overall funding formula that the state uses to disperse funds to districts and charter schools. Allowing each district to control how it spent the money was a key selling point to secure the votes of some Republican lawmakers.

Placing the money in the formula created a mathematical barrier to giving out equitable raises across the state.

The pay raise was calculated based on 2016-17 salaries reported to the Arizona Auditor General’s Office.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee reported during legislative testimony that schools that paid salaries above that year’s statewide average of $48,372 would not get enough money to fully fund 10 percent raises. Conversely, those paying less than the statewide average would receive more than enough.

Another issue was how the state defined the job of teacher. It based its calculations on a count only of teachers providing direct instruction to a classroom of students. Most districts broaden the definition of teacher to include specialists such as speech therapists, instructional coaches and teachers’ aides.

Expanding that definition to more people necessitates spreading the money more thinly.

Those complications belie the simple promise Ducey made while unveiling his pay-raise plan: That every single teacher in Arizona would receive a 20 percent raise by 2020.

Ducey’s 10 percent raise for every teacher rates false on the ol’ bullshit meter. The Arizona Republican will endorse him anyway.

Which brings us to the GOP’s Three Stooges running for the U.S. Senate. Martha McSally and Kelli Ward clashed at The Arizona Republic. Here’s what we learned.

In the first and apparently only debate of the U.S. Senate Republican primary, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and former state Sen. Kelli Ward sparred Monday over the future of border security, the national debt, and who is in the better position to take on Democratic front-runner U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November.

* * *

All three Republican Senate candidates were invited to participate in a primary-election debate hosted by The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, Arizona PBS and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Ward reiterated calls on McSally to participate in that debate, and others, suggesting she was hiding from voters.

An astute observation. McSally has been hiding from her CD 2 constituents in her chicken bunker during her entire tenure in Congress. She only appears in front of hand-picked friendly audiences, and avoids debates.

“This is a job where you’re on the national stage. I can’t get my two opponents to get on the debate stage, and I think that we have an open Senate seat…” she said. “The voters of Arizona deserve to see us in the primary and then in the general standing up side by side, talking about the issues, just like we are here.”

Wow! Kelli “Chemtrails” Ward finally said something on which we can both agree! She is correct.

During the Senate candidate’s one-hour appearance at The Arizona Republic, McSally cast herself as an effective problem solver while Ward attacked her as an unreliable conservative whose recent maneuverings on border-security legislation should be questioned.

McSally, a two-term congresswoman from Tucson, dismissed Ward, of Lake Havasu City, as a perpetual Senate candidate whose opinion on her record is inconsequential. Ward unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Sen. John McCain for the GOP nomination in 2016.

The third Republican candidate seeking the party’s nomination, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was sent an invitation but did not show up for the meeting before The Republic’s editorial board.

* * *

McSally and Ward found common ground on their support for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanagh, for justices supportive of restricting abortion rights, and on retiring incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake’s estrangement from the GOP in a Trump era.

During one heated exchange on the future of the Affordable Care Act, which President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have unsuccessfully sought to repeal, Ward attacked McSally’s professional credentials. McSally is a former Air Force combat pilot.

In speaking of the ACA, Ward likened it to a “cancer” that should be cut out without replacing it. She said she was disappointed McSally was working with a bipartisan coalition to, among other things, adjust employer mandates and repeal a medical device tax. Ward accused McSally of participating in a discussion that would “expand the tentacles of ‘Obamacare.’”

McSally shot back: “Kelli, that’s not what it is, I mean, come one. If you’re going to really spend the rest of the hour just attacking me nonstop, it’s a little extreme. I’m not going to take the bait, OK?”

Ward responded, “There’s no bait. And about the military, I’m a military wife. My husband served honorably for 33 years. I have sent him into the battle zone…”

Ward added she has not served in the military, and she thanked McSally for her service.

“And you know, I’m not a trained killer,” Ward said. “I am a trained problem solver. I’m a trained healer, and I think that’s what we need in Washington.”

McSally appeared perturbed by the attack line, pursed her lips, and took a sip of water.

Like your three-year old who pouts when she doesn’t get her way.

In any case, both of these losers are on the wrong side of the Affordable Care Act and the wrong side of history. “Democrats’ health care message is resonating with critically important blocs of midterm voters, according to the latest Axios/SurveyMonkey polling.”

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Both Senate hopefuls made clear they don’t support the ACA, former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care overhaul. But they suggested very different approaches to dealing with it.

Last year, McSally voted for the GOP-led effort to repeal the ACA broadly similar to the plan McCain, R-Arizona, torpedoed two months later with a dramatic thumbs down.

Afterward, McSally led the Republican contingent in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that would have effectively guaranteed insurance subsidies for the individual insurance markets but exempted more businesses from mandated health coverage.

A similar effort in the Senate collapsed, signaling the parties could not make a deal on health care.

By contrast, Ward said she would hold out for full repeal of the ACA, clinging to a position that has failed for Republicans since the law’s passage.

Ward, a physician, touts herself as a health-care expert with a front-row view of “the dismantling of our health care system” who can challenge Sinema, whom she described as Obama’s handpicked ambassador to sell the ACA to Arizonans.

“I can tell you that Obamacare was the biggest takeover by the government of health-care liberty and health-care freedom that we will ever see in our lifetime. If we move to the next step, which is single-payer, there will be a lot of pain across the health care spectrum,” Ward said. “We’ve got to have someone who is a thoughtful leader who understands the health care system, put it into plain language for the members and then move ahead with great solutions.”

McSally said her record shows she is a leader who tackles the major issues confronting the United States.

She said she got provisions added to the GOP health-care bill that would have preserved more money for states under the revised Medicaid plans and she increased the proposed tax credits for those approaching Medicare eligibility.

“I was constructive,” McSally said. “Sitting back and doing nothing is not an option, especially when our colleagues in the Senate fail.”

There is more to this lame interview from which I will spare you.

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