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Victory for Arizona’s Students – Court Says State Must Increase Education Funding $300 Million

Phoenix, AZ – July 11, 2014 – AEA and a coalition of the education community won a historic ruling ensuring that future generations of Arizona’s children will receive the education funding approved by voters in 2000.
On July 11, 2014, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ordered the state to reset the base level of education funding for inflation to the correct amount, providing an increase of approximately $300 million in funding for our public schools.   Court Ruling
“Today is a momentous day for Arizona’s public school students,” said AEA President Andrew F. Morrill. “This ruling comes at a time when the state is raising expectations on public education and this court ruling will provide the funding for the support and resources our teachers and schools desperately need and have found sorely lacking from the state.”
Last year, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of AEA’s lawsuit challenging the Arizona Legislature’s willful refusal to fully fund the inflation factor for education funding in clear violation of the voter-approved Proposition 301 and the Voter Protection Act. This decision protected future education budgets; however, the court remanded judgment on resetting the base level and back pay to the Superior Court.
“Judge Cooper’s ruling ensures that future generations of Arizona’s children will be guaranteed the education funding voters approved when they passed Proposition 301 in 2000,” said Morrill.
The court has ruled that the “The base levels for fiscal years 2009 through 2014 shall be reset to what they would have been if adjusted for inflation. In making the inflation adjustment for FY 2014-15, the Legislature shall treat the base level for 2013-14 as having been $3,559.62.” The current legislatively set base level is $3373.11. Given the way district budgets are calculated, this will translate into about $279.00 per student.
On the issue of the money owed to public schools by the state for FY 2009-2014, the court has ruled that an evidentiary hearing is necessary. “It’s important to note that this issue would not be the budget drain it is now if legislators had done the right thing and followed the mandate of voters to fully fund the inflation factor during those years,” said Morrill. “This is about students being shorted $1 billion in education funding for the last five years.”
Educators and public education supporters should rejoice in this victory for Arizona’s students and our hope is that the state will accept the court’s ruling so our state can move forward.

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