In Howard Fischer’s reporting today was this passage, State budget plan advances with committee’s approval:

education_appleSen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the record shows that K-12 funding is increasing.

He cited figures putting all dollars per student at $8,868 in the 2005-2006 year. Kavanagh said that by this year, that figure had increased to $9,318.

But legislative budget staffers said when inflation is factored in, that $9,318 is really worth only $7,799.

And even that does not paint a true picture, as those figures include not just state aid but also federal dollars and locally raised funds.

That legislative report puts pure state aid in 2005-2006 at $3,908 per student compared with $4,040 now, an increase of 3.3 percent. Factor in inflation, and that’s a 13.5 percent decrease.

So John Kavanagh is playing the “fun with facts and figures” game using GOP “fuzzy math” to blatantly lie to your face. Thanks for clearing that up, Howie.

But wait, there’s more dishonesty from the always disingenuous John Kavanagh that requires further explanation for proper context:

No one disputes state universities will take a real hit, with the budget cutting $104 million in state aid, a 14 percent drop.

Cassidy Possehl, student body president at the main campus of Arizona State University, noted the Arizona Constitution requires instruction “shall be as nearly free as possible.”

She said that reflects the founders’ beliefs that universities and the students they graduate are crucial to the state’s economic future. Possehl said graduates are future community leaders, future teachers and future scientists.

“With an affirmative vote on this budget as it stands, you are telling each and every single one of them that their future and the future of this state are a very low priority,” Possehl said.

But Kavanagh pointed out that clause may mean less than it seems.

In a unanimous 2007 ruling, the Arizona Supreme Court acknowledged the constitutional language. And the justices even said that a 39.1 percent, one-year tuition hike approved by the Board of Regents may even be unconstitutional.

But Justice Andrew Hurwitz, who wrote the decision, said judges cannot substitute their judgment for that of the regents — or the Legislature whose funding can drive tuition hikes.

Howie could have been more clear about this if not limited by column space, I suppose. Cassidy Possehl, student body president at the main campus of Arizona State University, is referring to the Arizona Constitution:

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.

Kavanagh is being flippant about the holding in Kromko v. Arizona Board of Regents (2007) (.pdf), in which a unanimous court held: “we hold that the issue presented in the students’ complaint – whether the 2003-04 tuition increase runs afoul of the “as nearly free as possible” provision – is a nonjusticiable political question.” This does not mean that the legislature is free to do as it pleases as Kavanagh seems to suggest. The Court went on to state:

We can conceive of no judicially discoverable and manageable standards – and the students have suggested none – by which we could decide such issues, either individually or in the aggregate. . . . The issue of whether tuition is “as nearly free as possible” is thus a nonjusticiable political question.

Our holding that the issue presented in this case is nonjusticiable is not a determination that the 2003-04 level of tuition is constitutional. As we have previously noted,

A determination that an issue is a political question is “very different from determining that specific [governmental] action does not violate the Constitution. That determination is a decision on the merits that reflects the exercise of judicial review, rather than an abstention from judicial review that would be appropriate in the case of a true political question.”

Forty-Seventh Legislature, 213 Ariz. at 485 ¶ 7, 143 P.3d at 1026 (quoting United States Dep’t of Commerce v. Montana, 503 U.S. 442, 458 (1992)) (alterations in original).

We hold only that other branches of state government are responsible for deciding whether a particular level of tuition complies with Article XI, Section 6.

Nor do we today hold that all funding decisions by other branches of government are insulated from judicial review. In some cases, there will be a judicially discoverable and manageable standard for measuring the constitutionality of a funding decision. In Roosevelt Elementary School District No. 66 v. Bishop, 179 Ariz. 233, 877 P.2d 806 (1994), for example, we concluded that a statutory funding scheme for public education violated the “general and uniform” requirement in Article XI, Section 1. That decision rested on the premise that there were judicially discoverable and manageable standards for determining whether the school system was “general and uniform.” In contrast, it is impossible for courts to determine by a similarly objective standard whether tuition is “as nearly free as possible.”

Roosevelt Elem. School Dist. No. 66  v. Bishop (1994), is recently back in the news, because our lawless Tea-Publican Arizona legislature is once again violating the consent decree entered in that case and a new lawsuit is in the works to be filed.  The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reported, Lawsuit will seek funding for school maintenance:

A public interest advocacy group is planning a lawsuit alleging that the state has unconstitutionally underfunded building maintenance and soft capital for school districts, which could force the state restore hundreds of millions of dollars of budget cuts made in recent years.

The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest plans to sue on behalf of several school districts and taxpayers, said attorney Tim Hogan. The Glendale Elementary School District’s governing board in December voted to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff, and Hogan said he plans to bring in several other school districts, along with property taxpayers from districts that have approved bonds to make up for funding shortfalls.

“It will allege that the current system is unconstitutional because it doesn’t provide any dedicated capital funding to school districts sufficient to ensure that they meet the state’s minimum standards,” Hogan said of the lawsuit. “School buildings have to be renovated. They have to be repaired. They have to be maintained. And all of that requires significant dollars.”

Hogan said he could file the suit within the next month.

And let’s not forget that the Arizona Supreme Court has also ruled against our lawless Tea-Publican state legislature in Cave Creek Unified School District v. Ducey ( CV–13–0039–PR 2013) finding that the legislature violated Prop. 301 (2000), a ballot measure referred to the voters by the legislature, which requires the legislature to adjust the “base level” education funding formula for K-12 each year in accordance with inflation. The Court further held that our lawless Tea-Publican Arizona legislature violated the Voter Protection Act, Prop. 105 (1998). The case was remanded to the trial court.

This case is currently before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Catherine Cooper, who has ordered the state to adjust base funding for schools in this fiscal year to $3,560 per student, a collective increase of about $317 million (this amount is now higher). Ruling on school funding (.pdf). This order has since been appealed.

The second part of this case, the back payments owed for previous fiscal years, is on hold for a judicially supervised settlement conference to which  the parties have agreed to participate. Given the budget being pursued by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature, there is no evidence that they intend to negotiate in good faith or enter into a fair and just settlement.

It is clear to me that the legislature intends to exhaust all appeals and to not pay the lawful judgment of the court or to settle Cave Creek, which is the position taken by John Kavanagh shortly after Judge Cooper entered her judgment in Cave Creek. Our Tea-Publican Arizona legislature believes that it is above the law and is accountable to no one in a court of law — or even at the ballot box.

In what state, other than Alabama perhaps, is such flagrant government lawlessness tolerated by the citizens of the state? What is wrong with the morality of the citizens of a state that would idly permit or even actively enable such government lawlessness?

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