The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments over whether state law requires the Legislature to give schools an annual funding increase to cover inflation.
The court is reviewing a Court of Appeals decision favoring the inflation funding. It said a voter-approved law requires the Legislature to provide the annual adjustment.
Facing a significant budget deficit, the Legislature in 2010 did not provide the inflation increase for general school spending. School districts and education groups sued, saying the lack of funding violated the Voter Protection Act, an initiative measure that restricts the lawmakers' power in changing voter-approved laws.
The inflation factor for this fiscal year was calculated at $82 million, and that is the amount by which general public school funding was increased by the Legislature in the budget it passed last spring.
Legislative leaders said at the time that the increase was based on the state's ability to cover the increase and not on the inflation factor. However, they said, if the court ruled against them, the increased spending would mean the Legislature was in compliance.