Statement by Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer

PHOENIX (February 3, 2017) – Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer released the following statement regarding recent claims by the Arizona Education Association:

“As the son of two public school educators, I am constitutionally incapable of criticizing our state’s teachers. To claim otherwise is fake news.

“The context of my comments in the Thursday, February 2 edition of the Yellow Sheet Report were in a conversation about ballot initiative reform and related to the state and national teachers unions funding a portion of the campaign to pass Proposition 206, which we now know has reduced the ability for schools to raise teacher pay, a goal we strongly support.

“I will concede that I should have used more artful language in describing the teachers unions. None of my criticism was directed at Arizona teachers, however, which is clear if one reads the story. (See below.) I have the utmost respect for the men and women who teach our kids.

“My record on education, and that of the organization I represent, is clear. No business group has put more time and effort into ensuring that more resources find their way in Arizona’s classrooms and in ensuring that we can retain and recruit great teachers.

“Whether it’s been our support for the passage of Proposition 123, or our support for the Executive budget proposal, which calls for $328 million in new K-12 education investments over the next three years, we are committed to continuing to improve our K-12 system, which includes higher teacher pay.”

The Yellow Sheet Report item:

Unions could be persuaded to get on board with these reforms, Hamer posited. “It’s amazing to me that the teachers unions are out there like a bunch of crybabies screaming about the difficulty of getting additional pay to teachers. These are the geniuses that helped fund Proposition 206, which takes money out of the classroom to pay other positions at schools,” Hamer said. Instead of giving schools discretion on where to spend money, Prop 206 gave raises to positions like cooks and crossing guards when it could have gone to increased teacher salaries, he said. “Maybe even the teachers’ union would appreciate a mechanism that would make it easier to adjust an initiative that passed, that may have caused some consequences that they didn’t even account for,” he said..

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The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.