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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Jun 12, 2014

One impending bill in Arizona could change the face of education statewide and significantly impact financial stability for years to come.

Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the state has failed to fund education under Proposition 301, an education related bill passed earlier in 2000. Questions still remain regarding how indebted Arizona is to school districts and related charter schools. The looming bill is in the neighborhood of $1.7 billion.

Proposition 301 sought to raise state sales tax by 0.6% in order to provide schools with funding. The issuance also required state Legislature to rise every year the state’s starting point for per-student-funding, or base level, or related expenses. To simplify, Prop 301 was issued to ensure funding for education could keep abreast with inflation rates.

The state is showing major resistance, claiming the courts have no authority in this context. Meanwhile, state lawyers are contending Arizona should receive credit for surplus payments during certain periods of the early 2000s.

Amazingly, this enormous decision ultimately falls to one person – Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper. State legislators are underscoring the monumental implications either side of the ruling would create. Earlier this month, Arizona Association of School Business Officials governmental-relations director Chuck Essigs described it as “one of the most important legal decisions in the history of the Arizona education.”

Court documents reveal the state claims to have met requirements of Prop 301 as it increased education funding through means of transportation, one of several components listed in the original statute. The state cites convoluted language contained in the bill as the catalyst.

Several state leaders are anticipating additional payment will more than likely need to be made to fund schools. Legislators suggest it is no longer of question of “if” so much as “how much”.