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Lawmakers Acted Illegally When Refusing To Adjust Public School Aid, Says Arizona Supreme Court
The Arizona Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of state voters to make their own laws, and they are telling state lawmakers they acted illegally in refusing to adjust state aid to public schools for inflation. The justices rejected the state’s arguments that lawmakers are free to ignore provisions of a voter-approved measure mandating the annual increases. The court said the will of the voters, along with a constitutional prohibition on legislative tinkering with measures the voters approve, means such adjustments are off-limits.
The decision means state schools will be in line for at least another $80 million in the coming budget year, but over the long haul it is a slap at lawmakers’ claims that they have the right to ignore voter mandates.
Lawmakers had gone along with the provisions of the 2000 ballot measure until budget money got tight in 2010. Facing a deficit, they decided the inflation adjustment was not necessary. That has cost the state’s schools between $189 million and $240 million, depending on whose figures are used.