State to unveil plan to settle education lawsuit

Published: Oct. 26, 2015 at 10:45 PM MST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2015 at 1:53 AM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Arizona state lawmakers need cash in a hurry.

Every day the state falls deeper in debt to the kids of the state.

State lawmakers are trying to find a way to settle a lawsuit they lost to K-12 education.

The courts ruled the state is $1 billion in arrears because it failed to fund education as dictated by voter initiative.

The state hopes the court will settle for $331 million and call it even.

But even finding that and to pay going forward is proving a difficult task.

This is why state House and Senate leadership has come up with a plan, the details of which should be released Tuesday, Oct. 27.

It appears the majority of funds will come from the state trust, which is set aside for education.

The details have not been released yet, but opponents said the money would deplete the trust and shortchange future generations.

There is also talk of raiding the First Things First early childhood education fund, which is funded by an 80 cent tax on cigarettes.

Four years ago, by a 70-30 percent margin, voters said no to sweeping First Things First to fund K-12.

A recent survey shows voter attitudes have not changed.

"You can't take it from kids from zero to five and put it into K-12 and think you're doing something good," said Steve Lynn, a former First Things First board member.

Lynn feels its counterproductive to take money away from one group of kids to give to another group of kids and creates a competition for money, which shouldn't be the focus.

"The fact that somebody, or a group of somebody's [lawmakers] thinks its a good idea to rob the kids to pay for other kids, to me, it's not surprising, it's disappointing," he said.

Both proposals would have to go to voters in separate questions.

The earliest the voters would have that say is March 2016, but it's likely that would be put off until November.

If voters approve, the money would not find its way to schools until 2017.

If voters don't approve, then the process starts all over again, except the state is even further behind.

Copyright 2015 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.