Why Arizona's K-12 public schools got screwed
You've seen it before in this blog, but attend to it again. The Arizona state constitution says this (all emphases added):
Article IX, Section 3: The legislature shall provide by law for an annual tax sufficient, with other sources of revenue, to defray the necessary ordinary expenses of the state for each fiscal year. And for the purpose of paying the state debt, if there be any, the legislature shall provide for levying an annual tax sufficient to pay the annual interest and the principal of such debt within twenty-five years from the final passage of the law creating the debt.
Article XI, Section 6: The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible. The legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be established and maintained in every school district for at least six months in each year, which school shall be open to all pupils between the ages of six and twenty-one years.
Article 11, Section 10: The revenue for the maintenance of the respective state educational institutions shall be derived from the investment of the proceeds of the sale, and from the rental of such lands as have been set aside by the enabling act approved June 20, 1910, or other legislative enactment of the United States, for the use and benefit of the respective state educational institutions. In addition to such income the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.
So what happened is this: the "lawless Tea-Publican legislature" shirked, again, their constitutional obligation to fund public education with tax revenue. The wording in the constitution is quite clear: it is SHALL, not could, not would, not may or maybe, it is SHALL. It is an imperative.
Instead of using existing money from taxation (the surplus), or enacting an additional source of revenue as provided for by the constitution, the lege cut a very bad deal for education. The deal was accepted by the education groups (and some Dems) because of the fear, the fear (!), that they would get even less by pursuing their lawsuit against the lege. In this case, FDR was wrong. What we have to fear is a Republican-majority state government run amuck, unconstrained by the very constitution they claim to hold dear.
Mark my words. The Guv and the Lege will use the financial breathing space provided by raiding the state land trust to attempt "tax reform" (aka more tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations).
If you want a more detailed analysis of illegality of what the ideologues have done to public instruction, check out the Blue Meanie's post this morning (Nov 1).