Monday, October 21, 2013

Court Uphold Voters' Right to Protect Education Funding From Derelict Legislature

I will have to admit I had not been following the litigation in Arizona over the state's failure to include inflation adjustments to education, but the state supreme court just delivered a huge win for education advocates.  In 2000, voters passed a proposition to require the legislature to make annual inflation adjustments to the public education budget.  That initiative had added strength because two years earlier the voters had approved a constitutional amendment that limited the legislature's ability to modify voter referenda.  In recent years, however, the state has failed to increase education funding to keep pace with inflation.  Plaintiffs brought suit under the prior legislation and constitutional amendment.  The Arizona Supreme Court in Cave Creek Unified School District v. Ducey, 308 P.3d 1152 (2013), held that “(1) Arizona constitution did not preclude voters from enacting by referendum a statutory directive that limited legislature's plenary legislative power by requiring that annual state budgets include adjustments for inflation to base support levels for K–12 public schools; and (2) annual state budgets that failed to include adjustments for inflation to base support levels for public schools, as directed by a voter-approved referendum, violated the Voter Protection Act (VPA).”

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