AG Says It's His Job To Protect Arizonans Against 'Illegally High' Tuition Costs

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 3:15pm

Attorney General Mark Brnovich says it's his job to protect Arizonans under the state constitution and the Court of Appeals should uphold his right to sue over what he calls "illegally high" university tuition rates.

Brnovich filed new court papers Wednesday under an argument that a lower court was wrong in ruling his office could not sue unless specifically authorized under state law or when given permission by the Gov. Doug Ducey.

His was not the first rejected case; the State Supreme Court threw out a similar lawsuit in 2007 brought by then state Rep. John Kromko and other students who challenged a nearly 40 percent year-after-year tuition increase.

O.H. Skinner, Brnovich's assistant attorney general, said he agrees with the 2007 decision that found it's impossible to judge whenever the Arizona Board of Regents decided to bump up tuition by $10 to $100.

However, he said, "When somebody comes in and says this government entity is not following the right process, or they're not following a mandate of law, or from the people or from the constitution, that has to be something that can be adjudicated."

Skinner said, up to this point, the AG's office could not get before a judge to have a court consider a legal question.

"Is this other official complying with a mandate of state law? is this other official complying with an amendment to the constitution passed by the voters? It would remove that check, that important check in the voice of the people and really leave a wide gap."

A decade ago the state provided nearly $8,000 in aid for each student. With inflation, and state cuts that coverage is now worth approximately $3,500.

The Board of Regents has argued that the sharp tuition hikes became necessary due to these cuts made in state funding.

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