Judge Rejects State Plan To Make Tuscon School District Shoulder Cost Of Desegregation

By Holliday Moore
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 11:34am

A judge has rejected Gov. Doug Ducey's plan to finance a portion of the teachers' pay raises and last year's budget on the backs of Tucson taxpayers.

A tax court judge found it unconstitutional to force the Tucson Unified School District to pay entirely for the cost of its desegregation program, when that cost constitutionally should come from the general fund.

Ducey's office is reviewing the judge's ruling. If it stands, the state will owe the district $8.5 million, forcing taxpayers statewide to absorb the cost equally.

In 1980, voters approved a constitutional amendment capping primary property taxes at 1%, a chief funding source for state government and school operating costs.

However, when Ducey and the Republican-controlled legislature chose to move the program is funding out of the primary tax and into a secondary tax category to spare the budget those millions of dollars, the judge said that can only happen with voter-approved obligations and budget overrides.

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