Arizona Education Association

Fall 2015

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6 Fall 2015 | AEA Advocate AT ThE cAPITOL AT ThE cAPITOL AT ThE cAPITOL AT ThE cAPITOL Negotiations between the state of Arizona and the plaintiffs in Cave Creek v. Ducey (now Cave Creek v. DeWit) reached impasse on August 25, 2015. The Coalition of plaintiff school districts and education organizations, including the Arizona Education Association, engaged in a prolonged effort to settle the dispute, but a settlement could not be reached. The plaintiffs brought forward this lawsuit in 2010 to challenge the state's refusal to fund infl ation under the voter mandate of Proposition 301. Almost two years ago, the Arizona supreme Court ruled in favor of public schools, ordering the state to fund the Proposition 301 infl ation factor for public school funding. These annual cost-of-living adjustments protect education funding from Prop 301 Settlement Talk Reaches Impasse the effects of infl ation. To implement the supreme Court's order, Maricopa County superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ordered the state to reset the education funding base level. This reset would have added over $300 million to K-12 funding in the current year alone. "The failure to reach an acceptable settlement is disappointing," says Arizona Education Association President Andrew F. Morrill. "Our students need immediate support from the state. It's time our leaders put Arizona and our children fi rst. Arizona has $785 million in state reserves. Governor Ducey should call a special session and demand legislators get this money into our classrooms now. students are returning to classrooms for a new school year while our state faces historic numbers of teachers leaving the profession due to a lack of resources." Arizona ranks last or near the bottom in per-student spending and in average teacher salaries. The Arizona Legislature has refused to fund public education in compliance with the law since 2009, depriving Arizona's students of over $1 billion in K-12 funding. since the settlement talks were confi dential, all parties are prohibited by court order from discussing the terms of the negotiations. However, the Coalition members believe that Arizona's students should be the state's number one priority and remain committed to settling the infl ation lawsuit. The Coalition members remain willing to consider any reasonable option that secures the necessary and required additional funding for Arizona's public schools. DO THE MATH Money Owed to Students $1.5 billion This is the total amount students were shorted by Arizona legislators during the recession. State's Debt to Students this Year $330 million This is the amount owed to students by the state this year in order to follow the court order and voter mandate to fund the infl ation factor in the education budget. Budget Surplus $325 million The latest numbers from the state show tax revenues exceeding budget expectations, resulting in a surplus of $325 million for the 2014-2015 fi scal year. Rainy Day Fund $460 million The state saved $460 million for the 2014-2015 fi scal year budget. This money is not included in the surplus. State Reserves $785 million This is the surplus and rainy day fund together and cash on hand right now available from the state to fund Arizona's public schools. Even if the state paid the money owed to student this year, Arizona would still have $455 million left over.

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