NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 31, 2006

Unlike the Rolling Stones, Arizona taxpayers might get some satisfaction after a recent federal court ruling, says Benjamin Barr, a constitutional policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute.  

Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the Flores v. Arizona education lawsuit back to Tucson.  That move cancels an earlier, hefty fine of some $21 million levied against the state:

  • The case involves questions about the adequacy of funding for English language learner programs in Arizona.
  • Because the legislature and governor missed previous court-imposed deadlines to change the funding formula, a judge set escalating daily fines starting at $500,000.

Fundamentally, this case highlights the danger of overreaching judicial authority.  Deciding how much money a state should spend on public education should be reserved to the legislature.  No federal judge should wield the authority to dictate what amount should be spent to educate children, says Barr.

Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit realized that the "landscape of educational funding" has changed in Arizona, requiring the lower court to reassess its fines.  That gives the Tucson court a chance to reconsider its ruling and leave the matter to the legislature.

Source: Benjamin Barr, "Can't Get No Satisfaction," Goldwater Institute, August 30, 2006.


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