State reaches possible settlement in education funding lawsuit

- Lawmakers are tight lipped about a possible deal, that could settle Arizona’s $331 million school funding lawsuit.

“We have yet to see the details in writing, we've been given a rough sketch," said Rep. Eric Meyer, a Paradise Valley Democrat.

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs would not comment on the proposed agreement. His office spent the day briefing lawmakers, as both sides of the lawsuit came together to work out the final details.

"There's been great progress, the key ideas that have been agreed to, the language of that agreement is being written as we speak," said Dr. Timothy Ogle, Executive Director the Arizona School Board Association, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

The deal comes after nine months of negotiations failed between legislators and education groups. A court ordered lawmakers to pay school districts more than $300 million from a voter-mandated inflation funding measure that lawmakers put on hold in 2009.

Over the Summer, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey proposed using money from land trust sales to settle the issue. His office issued the following statement:

"Following talks our office initiated with leaders in the Legislature and the education community several weeks ago, a solution to the education funding lawsuit was negotiated late last week. As work progresses, Governor Ducey's goal is that we get this money to our kids and teachers as soon as possible."

That tentative agreement still needs approval from the legislature. Democrats worry that an agreement to use money from the State Land Trust Fund will be a short term fix.

"If the Governor really wants to support funding our school the money is in the bank, why aren't we using that money and letting the corpus of the state land trust fund grow, so future generations can benefit from that," said Meyer.

If the agreement includes land trust money, voters would have to approve of using that funding to settle the lawsuit. Lawmakers have been told to be available the rest of the week for a potential special legislative session.

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