Arizona Education Association

Fall 2015

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8 Fall 2015 | AEA Advocate AT ThE cAPITOL AT ThE cAPITOL AT ThE cAPITOL AT ThE cAPITOL v. State of Arizona In June 2010, AEA and a coalition of education groups challenged the legislature's willful refusal to adjust the "base level" of education funding for infl ation, despite the clear intent of the voter-approved Proposition 301 and the Voter Protection provisions of the Arizona Constitution. On January 15, 2013, the Court of Appeals overturned the superior court decision and ordered the legislature to fully fund infl ation, but the state appealed the decision to the Arizona supreme Court. On september 26, 2013, the Arizona supreme Court ruled that in Proposition 301, the voters constitutionally directed the legislature to annually adjust all components of the base level for K-12 public school funding for infl ation. Thus, the legislature's failure to adjust the base level funding for infl ation violated the Voter Protection Act, which limits the legislature's power to modify voter initiatives and referenda. Then the supreme Court remanded the case to the superior Court for a judgment implementing its decision. Unfortunately on remand to the superior Court, the state of Arizona argued that it did not have to adjust the base level prospectively to account for infl ation during the years that it willfully violated the law. On July 11, 2014, the Judge Cooper disagreed with the state and held that it must reset the base levels to account for the years the state did not adjust for infl ation as the law required. This "reset" represented about $317 million in additional funding for the 14-15 school year alone. After the judge refused to stay this base level reset order, the state appealed the base level reset to the Court of Appeals. In addition to fi ghting the base level reset, the state also is fi ghting whether it has to repay the money that it wrongfully withheld from school when it did not fund infl ation as required by law. Judge Cooper held a fi ve-day evidentiary hearing beginning on October 27, 2014, on whether the state must repay this "back-pay," and we are still waiting for a superior Court decision on the back pay portion of this lawsuit. Beginning in January of 2015, the parties began confi dential settlement negotiations mediated by several Court of Appeals judges. Pending this settlement attempt, the decision on the back pay, the appeal on the base level reset, and the renewed request to stay the base level reset order were put on hold. Unfortunately, the negotiations were not successful, and on August 25, 2015, the parties declared impasse and resumed litigation. In "due course," the Court of Appeals will rule on the renewed request to stay the base level reset order. Then, after the parties brief the base level reset issue, the Court of Appeals will likely issue a decision on the base level reset approximately in the late spring of 2016. As to the back pay issue, the superior Court will issue a ruling from the evidentiary hearing soon, and that issue will also be appealed to the Court of Appeals. Any decision on either issue will eventually be appealed to the Arizona supreme Court. Throughout this litigation, AEA remains committed to fi ghting for a fully funded, quality public education for all Arizona students. 2010 2013 2013 2014 2014 2015 ETA 2016

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