Category Archives: Governor

Ducey v. Brnovich on ABOR tuition lawsuit

Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly know as the state of Arizona, is an ex officio member of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), recently sued by Attorney General Mark Brnovich in a publicity stunt over high tuition rates at the state universities.

Governor Ducey says his AG Mark Brnovich is full-o-crap. Ducey stands by ABOR, says tuition rates are constitutional:

Arizona’s three universities are in compliance with constitutional requirements to keep instruction “as nearly free as possible,” Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday, despite what Attorney General Mark Brnovich contends.

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More to the point, the governor said he believes the regents, in setting tuition — and even in imposing sharp increases during the past 15 years — are keeping the cost of instruction within what the constitution requires.

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Arizona Supreme Court to hear appeal of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan

Earlier this year, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

The “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which is litigating the case on behalf of our lawless Tea-Publican legislators who are parties to this lawsuit, of course appealed the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan goes to Arizona Supreme Court.

The Arizona Supreme Court has now said it will hear the appeal. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court to decide on Medicaid tax:

The state’s high court agreed Tuesday to decide whether a levy that funds Arizona’s expanded Medicaid program was illegally enacted.

Without comment, the justices said they want to give foes of the levy — current and former state lawmakers — a chance to make the case that it really is a tax.

What the court decides will be significant, as it takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to raise taxes [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)]. . And since the measure did not get that margin, a finding that the levy actually is a tax would mean the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, could no longer collect it.

More significant, without the approximately $265 million being collected each year, the state could no longer afford to provide care to about 400,000 Arizonans who were added to the plan as a result of the 2013 action.

Tuesday’s action does not mean the justices have already reached a conclusion. But just the decision to review lower court ruling upholding the legality of the levy places it in potential jeopardy.

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ABOR should implead the Arizona legislature as an indispensable party in tuition suit

I posted about this lawsuit over the weekend, AG Mark Brnovich creates a ‘straw man’ for our lawless Tea-Publican legislature on higher ed funding.

The head of the state Board of Regents, Bill Ridenour, blasted Attorney General Mark Brnovich for what he said is a publicity stunt Friday — he called it “political pandering” — in suing the board and blaming its members for the steep hike in tuition in the last 15 years. ABOR chairman calls tuition lawsuit a publicity stunt:

“The AG’s lawsuit, while it makes for good headlines, does nothing to change the burden for students and their families,” he said in a prepared statement. “The suit is full of attacks, but offers no constructive remedies.”

Ridenour said Brnovich is right on at least one issue: The “seismic” shift in cost from the state to students to attend one of the state’s three universities.

What’s wrong with the litigation, he said, is that it seeks a solution from just the regents, ignoring the role he said lawmakers have played in the 300-plus percent increase in tuition since 2003. And Ridenour said if the issue is going to be hashed out in court, then the lawsuit needs to involve more than the regents.

“If it goes to that extent, the Legislature is an indispensable party,” he told Capitol Media Services.

Ridenour is absolutely correct. ABOR should move the court for impleader of the Arizona legislature, because the constitutional provisions for which Brnovich is suing ABOR are actually express directives to the Arizona legislature:

Article XI, Section 6: The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible. The legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be established and maintained in every school district for at least six months in each year, which school shall be open to all pupils between the ages of six and twenty-one years.

Article XI, Section 10.  The revenue for the maintenance of the respective state educational institutions shall be derived from the investment of the proceeds of the sale, and from the rental of such lands as have been set aside by the enabling act approved June 20, 1910, or other legislative enactment of the United States, for the use and benefit of the respective state educational institutions. In addition to such income the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.

I cannot imagine that the court would not grant ABOR’s motion to implead the Arizona legislature as an indispensable party.

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AG Mark Brnovich creates a ‘straw man’ for our lawless Tea-Publican legislature on higher ed funding

It was recently reported that “State support for students at Arizona’s three public universities has fallen by 53.8 percent since 2008, more than three times the national decline over the same period, according to a new report.” Arizona cuts to college student support still among steepest in nation:

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the Arizona cuts were the most extreme example of a national trend that has seen a total reduction in state aid of nearly $9 billion over the 10 years, as states scrambled to close budget gaps caused by the recession.

Despite efforts by states in recent years to reverse the trend – including in Arizona, where state support per student rose 4.25 percent last year – the report’s authors said they worry that those increases are slowing down.

“The clear majority of states have been reinvesting and that has been a broad trend over the past few years,” said Michael Mitchell, a senior policy analyst at the CBPP, in a call on the Wednesday report.

“But there are indications that we can see that this reinvestment is trailing off and the amount of reinvestment that we’ve seen over the past few years just hasn’t been enough to make up for the drastic magnitude of cuts over the time period we’re looking at,” he said.

Those cuts average 16 percent per student nationally since 2008, the report said.

Arizona’s 53.8 percent reduction was largest in the nation, with Louisiana next-closest with a 44.9 percent reduction. In terms of an actual dollar reduction, however, Arizona’s per-student cut of $3,450 was fourth-highest, behind Louisiana, New Mexico and Alabama.

While the cuts have been partially offset by increases in federal aid – an average Pell grant grew 23 percent during the period – steady increases in tuition continue to make college unaffordable for many, according to the report.

“We have seen increases in federal student aid, but in states where tuition costs have increased rapidly those additional federal investments have not kept up with rising college costs,” Mitchell said. “The net cost of attendance has increased even for low-income students at four-year colleges.

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Proposition 305: Save Our Schools Arizona referendum of school ‘vouchers on steroids’ qualifies for the 2018 ballot

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Voucher expansion referendum makes ballot:

With validation results in from Maricopa County, “it’s a mathematical guarantee” that the referendum on school voucher expansion in Arizona will make it to the 2018 ballot, Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a tweet Tuesday.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has validated 86.6 percent of a sample of signatures collected by Save Our Schools Arizona, putting the school voucher referendum on track to reach the 2018 ballot.

The majority of the roughly 108,000 signatures deemed valid by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office were gathered in Maricopa County, and now, SOS Arizona’s statewide validation average sits at about 87 percent overall.

That gives SOS Arizona a comfortable margin of error; with an 86 percent validation rate, the referendum would have nearly 93,000 valid signatures, about 18,000 more than it needs to make it to the ballot.

Elections Director Eric Spencer reiterated what Reagan announced via social media, adding that barring the pending legal challenges SOS Arizona still faces, the outlook for the referendum is “sunny.” He anticipated a notice of certification would be sent to the governor’s office on Sept. 11, the deadline for the remaining three counties to report results.

But if those counties were to report tomorrow, Spencer said, the Secretary of State’s Office is ready to certify what will be billed as Proposition 305 on the 2018 general election ballot.

Results from Cochise, Yavapai and Yuma counties are still pending.

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Our lawless TeaPublican legislature seeks to avoid accountabiity for failing to adequately fund the capital needs of school districts

I posted about the latest school funding lawsuit against our lawless TeaPublican legislature and governor back in April. The other show drops: Lawsuit against our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for unconstitutionally underfunding capital needs of school districts.

This case is back in the news this week. Our lawless TeaPublican legislature and governor are asking the court to dismiss this lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs have no standing to sue to hold them accountable for their unconstitutional underfunding of the capital needs of Arizona school districts.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports State asks judge to dismiss legal challenge to school finance scheme:

Saying challengers have no right to sue, lawyers for the state want a judge to throw out a challenge to the state’s school funding scheme.

In legal papers filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, attorney Brett Johnson does not directly address the contention by education officials, taxpayers and others that the lack of cash from the governor and Legislature has left schools with hundreds of millions of dollars of unmet construction, maintenance and equipment needs.

Instead, Johnson is telling Judge Connie Contes she has no authority to decide if the state is providing enough money. He said whatever they decide to provide in cash is a “political question” beyond the powers of the courts.

“Whether and how much money can be paid out of the state treasury is clearly committed by our constitution to those acting in a legislative capacity,” he wrote.

This “political question” doctrine defense is complete bullshit. The present lawsuit arises out of a prior lawsuit, and alleges that the state of Arizona is in violation of its previous settlement agreement in the long-running school capital funding case of Roosevelt Elem. School Dist. No. 66  v. Bishop (No. CV-93-0168 1994), in which the Arizona Supreme Court held that the statutory financing scheme for public education violated the Arizona Constitution, Article XI, § 1.

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