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.

Ducey, in his comments Sept. 14, did more than disagree with Brnovich’s conclusion that the tuition is unconstitutionally too high. He also took a slap at the attorney general for seeking to resolve the issue by filing suit — and doing so without first talking to the regents.

“I’m not a big fan of lawsuits,” the governor said. “When I can I like to reduce the number of lawsuits rather than expand them.”

And Ducey worried that, no matter what the results, the taxpayers could be the losers.

Yes, the Arizona Supreme Court could find our lawless Tea-Publican legislature and governor in violation of their constitutional duty to keep the instruction at the state universities “as nearly free as possible,” forcing them to raise taxes on their wealthy benefactors to fund higher education as the Arizona Constitution requires.

While acknowledging the [reduction in state funding] for higher education, Ducey also defended the tax cuts he has pushed through the Legislature.

“It’s a balance of what we want to have in terms of an economic climate and what we want to have in terms of investment in universities,” he said.

Nor is Ducey going to ease up.

“We’re going to improve our tax situation and be lighter on regulation and grow jobs for our state and our citizens,” he said.

Spoken like a true believer “trickle-down” tax zealot. Damn fool.

The governor said his belief that the universities are complying with the constitutional requirements for instruction to be “as nearly free as possible” is based on a 2007 Supreme Court ruling.

Sorry, but no. An ice cream man is not qualified to render a legal opinion.

In actuality, the high court never decided whether the tuition hike passed constitutional muster. Instead, the justices said this was “a nonjusticable political question,” with the size of each university’s budget — and the amount of tuition that needs to be raised to support them — “left to the discretion of the board.”

And the justices said that question of tuition is also determined by the amount of aid provided by the Legislature, something they said is totally within the purview of the elected lawmakers.

Governor Ducey did make news on the DACA part of this lawsuit:

Ducey said that, as far as he’s concerned, those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should be able to attend state universities by paying the same tuition charged to other Arizona residents.

“I’ve always thought that a child that graduates from an Arizona high school is certainly an Arizona student and certainly should have access under in-state tuition inside our universities,” he said.

But the governor acknowledged that view is complicated by the 2006 voter-approved law which prohibits the use of state dollars to subsidize the tuition of those who are not legally in this country. And the state Court of Appeals earlier this year said that includes DACA recipients, making in-state tuition off limits to them.

That case is on appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Wait, doesn’t the governor have the ability to order this appeal dismissed? Or to settle the lawsuit? What’s with the passive-aggressive approach? Ducey had no problem aggressively pursuing his position in the inflation adjustment school financing case in which he and our lawless Tea-Publican legislature were held to be in violation of the law that led to his bogus Proposition 123 scheme. Surely he can devise something as equally convoluted for the benefit of DACA children.

Or maybe he really doesn’t mean what he just said:

Ducey said he agrees with President Trump, who just announced he would phase out the DACA program and that the Obama administration acted illegally in creating the program in 2012. [A conclusion not supported by legal precedent]. But the governor said he also agrees with Trump that the real solution not only to the question of tuition but the entire fate of the 800,000 “dreamers” in Arizona and 28,000 in Arizona should be “resolved by the action of Congress.”

Straddling that fence is going to give our governor a serious pain in his ass.

3 Responses to Ducey v. Brnovich on ABOR tuition lawsuit

  1. Sen. John Kavanagh

    With the Regent’s latest report showing that in-state undergrads on average pay only $3,974 in tuition, after student scholarships and aid and NOT including student loans, it is hard to believe that anyone is seriously discussing an affordability issue at our universities.

    In addition, the high tuition charged to out-of-state students is a major source of the student aid subsidies that go to about two-thirds of in-state students. And the out-of-state students are not complaining because they are getting a good deal also. Finally, the high tuition has not deterred out-of-state student enrollment with about half the students at ASU being out-of-state.

  2. bruce.desertrat

    “Frankly, I never understood my universities cut their own throats by charging more to out of state residents when one of their goals is to promote regional diversity.”

    They did that because the Legislature only provided per-student funding for state residents.

  3. Sorry, but the State Legislature, Governor, and others like them in this situation are not making tuition as free as possible. What they are doing is making it possible for student loan funders to make gigantic profits before the student loan bubble bursts. As to Dreamers, a simple solution would be to give everyone that applies to our universities (out of state, out of the country, in state) in-state tuition rates and that solves that. Frankly, I never understood my universities cut their own throats by charging more to out of state residents when one of their goals is to promote regional diversity. You can not do that well if you charge a higher rate for out of state residents.