Activists call for Governor to settle education lawsuit

- Activists held a protest at the Arizona State Capitol; they want lawmakers back in session to settle the ongoing education funding lawsuit.

Lawmakers are currently on recess until January.

The lawsuit has dragged on for five years, it all goes back to the recession when lawmakers put a voter-mandated law on hold.

That law requires education funding to keep up with inflation; now education activists say they've had enough.

The message from protesters at the Capitol was "Governor Ducey, pay your bills." As more than a dozen education groups called for the Governor to settle the lawsuit.

The education advocates want the Governor to call a special session and use the state's budget surplus to pay schools about 300 million dollars. A judge ruled that the public schools are owed the money after the state stopped funding schools at the rate of inflation.

"That $300 million might result in $300 per student, that is a silver of pie that is owed to students since 2009, I don't want to say it will have a fundamental change, but it is a beginning of important transition for education in Arizona," said Jonathan Parker.

Ducey's office responded to the protest, saying in part, "These folks are a little late to the game. Governor Ducey has been calling for an end to this lawsuit since his first week in office and is open to any discussion that puts more money in our schools and doesn't raise taxes. He's also put forward a plan to put $2.2 billion into our schools, for our kids."

Ducey's plan would use money from trust land sales to fund education, but it also would need to be approved by lawmakers who don't reconvene until January and the plan would require voter approval.

Critics say Ducey's plan does not address the immediate need.

"There's money currently sitting in the rainy day fund and state surplus, there's money today to resolve that if they wanted to," claimed Jennifer Johnson.

The State Legislature is currently appealing the court order to pay schools $300 million. FOX 10 reached out to leaders in the legislature for comment, but they have not responded.

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