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Lawmakers Haven't Paid Schools, Waiting On Court To Overturn Ruling

Arizona school officials are warning state lawmakers that unless they settle a case involving an annual inflation adjustment in school aid soon, taxpayers could be on the hook for a lot more money. 

The Supreme Court last year ruled lawmakers are legally required to boost state aid to schools each year but sent the question of how much is owed to trial court. 

Judge Katherine Cooper ordered a $317 million aid boost this year and in each successive year, but has not decided whether the state owes $1.3 billion in back payments. 

The School Boards Association said it has offered to drop that request if the state stops fighting the order to boost current funding. But Senate President Andy Biggs said he’s not interested, because the state doesn’t have the money.

“Even if they were to say that, whatever it is, pay X amount, over $300 million, $400 million, whatever their number is over this many years, we still can't afford to pay it," Biggs said.

Biggs still believes the state could get the ruling thrown out, meaning the schools would be owed no more than what lawmakers are providing them now.