Arizona Education Association

Advocate Spring 2012

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AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA AROUND AEA "I believe this signals the start of better conversations about public education AROUND AEA AROUND AEA and the state economy…." —AEA President Andrew Morrill 10 Spring 2012 x AEA Advocate AEA Wins Lawsuit Protecting Education Funding This past fall in appeals court, AEA won a lawsuit protecting state trust land funding for education. This is a big win for public education in Arizona and is the result of a coalition chal- lenging House Bill 2014 earlier this year. H.B. 2014 allows up to 10 percent of state trust land proceeds to be used for the ad- ministrative costs of running the State Land Department. However, the state trust land sales are constitutionally required to support Arizona public schools. AEA won at the trial court and obtained an injunction prohibiting H.B. 2014 from taking effect. However, when the State appealed, the Court of Appeals stayed the injunction, so the State was again allowed to spend trust money on the Land Department's administrative costs. On June 30, 2011, the Court of Appeals lifted that stay, so the Land Department was again prohibited from using trust monies to fund its administrative costs. Unfortunately, that 6-month stay of the injunction cost public edu- cation millions of dollars. On November 10, 2011, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Superior Court's deci- sion. This means that the State cannot use trust money to fund the Land Department's adminis- trative costs. The Court of Appeals also ordered the State to pay our attorney fees and costs. The State has vowed to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. 2 AEA Lobbies for Repeal of ASRS Contribution Rate Increase This past December, Senator Steve Pierce, the new Senate President, announced the intent of the Arizona Senate to work towards return- ing the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) contribution rate back to a 50/50 split. This announcement followed a meeting AEA President Andrew F. Morrill, AEA Lobbyist Jennifer Loredo, and other education stake- holders held with Senate President Pierce. In that meeting the topic of the ASRS contribu- tions was discussed. "It is refreshing to leave a meeting with Senate Leadership feeling that our concerns and issues were both heard and later addressed," says Morrill. The ASRS contribution rate was increased to a 53 percent employee share and 47 percent employer share as part of the FY 2012 budget last legislative session. This contribution shift amounted to a direct pay cut for state employ- ees, which would have an immediate negative effect on the state's economy. Last year, AEA led a coalition of public union members in a lawsuit challenging this increase. AEA applauds this change in policy from the new senate leadership. "I believe this signals the start of better conversations about public edu- cation and the state economy and that legisla- tive leadership is moving in the right direction," says Morrill. Please be sure to express your appreciation to Senate President Pierce and send him an email at or call him at 602- 926-5584 to thank him for doing the right thing and taking this action. Keep in mind that this could not have happened without you, the AEA member, standing together with other members for your rights. Our continued unity and action will be needed to support Senate President Pierce and the senate leadership as they work to gain the votes needed in both chambers of the legislature and convince the Governor to sign the legislation. AEA urges you to share this victory with your colleagues and encourage them to join the AEA and add their voice to the fight for quality public education for Arizona's children. We are stronger together. 2

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