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News Link • Education: Government Schools

Groups sue to reverse changes in state policy

• Mary Jo Pitzl
Groups representing Arizona teachers, cities and towns went to the state Supreme Court on Monday, arguing that the Legislature stretched a budget-cutting session to also ax unrelated policies.

In separate lawsuits, the Arizona Education Association and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns are asking the state's high court to overturn the actions that were approved by lawmakers in August and signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer.

Brewer called lawmakers into a special session to cut the state- budget deficit and consider a possible tax increase.

"These provisions are not appropriations and have no relation to the state budget," the AEA argues in its special action.

Lawmakers removed policies that set deadlines for issuing contracts, allowed seniority to be used as a factor in job-cut decisions, and permitted union members to use personal time for union matters.

The changes didn't fit with the theme of the special session and happened without a chance for public discussion, said John Wright, AEA president.

Likewise, the cities and towns argue in their special action that a freeze on development impact fees and building-code changes were outside the scope of the special session.

The Arizona Bankers Association made the same argument in a lawsuit it filed earlier this month over a change to the state's foreclosure law.

House Speaker Kirk Adams said budget bills are intertwined with policy decisions, and it's hard to separate them. After all, he said, the state budget is ultimately a policy statement in itself.

Adams, R-Mesa, said the string of lawsuits is yet another symptom of the state's tough budget times.

"It tells me we're in a financial crisis, and we have people upset about a lot of things," he said.

Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said his group is seeking a stay of the law, which takes effect today. A hearing has been set for Dec. 1.

The AEA is not seeking to block the law. Instead, the union is hopeful the court will act quickly, Wright said.


1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

They actually have a pretty good CONstitutional case.   The AZ CONstitution says special sessions are not suposed to be about anything other than what they are specifically called for.  Not that that matters.

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