Last week the Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller had this lede in his column, Steller: School attorneys should get tough with Legislature:
This was later followed by this graph:
“What the state (Legislature) did in the budget is recognize the state’s position in the lawsuit,” Rep. Justin Ols on , R-Mesa and chair of the appropriations committee, told me on Tuesday. “It’s an unresolved dispute in the court system. This is the state’s position in that lawsuit.”
As Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly so accurately described recently, the budget enacted by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature and governor thumbs its nose at the court order — Tea-Publicans are defying the court to enforce its order, in a parody of President Andrew Jackson: “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” So I Elected an Ax Murderer:
K-12 education saw increases in some areas but reductions in others for a total increase of $81 million in the upcoming budget year. The state was required by formula to increase spending by $250 million, but lawmakers reduced a number of other funding programs by $169 million, according to a Joint Legislative Budget Committee summary.
The biggest cut was a general reduction of $117 million of what Ducey originally pitched as “non-classroom spending” by district, but by the final budget allows districts to decide where to cut those dollars.
Lawmakers also cut funding for district-sponsored charter schools, which will lose half of their funding this year and all of it in fiscal year 2017.
Also in fiscal year 2017, the state is cutting $30 million in support of Joint Technical Education Districts, which are designed to help students develop vocational skills. That’s of particular importance to students who don’t intend to go to college, but also helps some students get a head start on their college education.
Left unresolved is the outcome of an ongoing lawsuit over whether lawmakers have properly funded education based on population growth and inflation. So far, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the lawmakers did not properly do so and the case has been sent back down to Maricopa Superior Court, where legal arguments are ongoing.
Now that our lawless Tea-Publican legislature has shut down the meth lab of democracy by declaring sine die, after demonstrating its bad faith in the education budget, I do not believe that there is any reason for attorneys representing the school districts to continue with the settlement conference before the panel of appellate judges.
Far be it from me to tell them what to do, but it’s time to end this farce. A settlement conference does not have to end in a settlement, which is voluntarily entered into. If the parties cannot agree, or one party is engaging in bad faith as is the case here, the matter is returned to court for further proceedings.
The lawyers for the school districts should notify the court that settlement discussions are at an impasse, and return to court to ask Judge Katherine Cooper to enter her judgment and order on the the retroactive inflation adjustment amount ($1.3 billion), so that her order can be joined with her previous judgment and order for $317 million in the current fiscal year, already on appeal. Request that the appeal be expedited.
“See you in court.”