Saturday, July 12, 2014

AZ lege and governor ordered to properly fund education. Their response: "Waaahhhhhhhh!"

On Friday, Judge Katherine Cooper of the Maricopa Superior Court ordered the legislature to restore funding to education that it had illegally cut.  This will result in a $317 million increase in education funding during this fiscal year* and may result in a larger sum ($1.5 billion plus) being awarded to make up for the cuts in previous years.

* = This isn't a done deal; the lege WILL look for a way to weasel out of it.

Fuller story from (Phoenix channel 5) here.

Background on the case from the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest here.

The decision was not surprising, and it most definitely was not disappointing.

However, the reaction of R electeds and hangers-on, while not surprising either, is still hugely disappointing.

From the Arizona Capitol Times, written by Gary Grado and including information from Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services -
[Arizona Governor Jan] Brewer was not happy with the decision, saying through spokesman Andrew Wilder the imposed spending will have a disastrous effect on public safety and vulnerable populations because the money has to come from somewhere in the budget.

“A court should not substitute their judgment on policy for that of the duly elected legislators who are constitutionally responsible for budget appropriations,” Wilder wrote in an email. “Courts spend money in a vacuum while elected executive and legislative officials must balance spending within the confines of budget realities.”


Michael Liburdi, an attorney who is not associated with the case, said the court can compel the Legislature to pay.

“As the court mentioned in its minute entry, it can’t tell the Legislature how to come up with the money. That’s a political question, so the state needs to find the money from some source in the budget, so a fund sweep, raise taxes, etc,” Liburdi said.

Note: Liburdi may note be "associated with" this particular case, but he has ties (and here) to the R leadership of the lege.  He serves as one of their legal water carriers a lot.

Note2: The court did not "substitute their judgement on policy"; it issued a ruling on the law.  That's its job, even when "elected executive and legislative officials" don't like the law in question and violate it repeatedly.

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