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Gov. Brewer Wants State Lawmakers to Pay Schools for Inflation

Gov. Jan Brewer says state lawmakers should stop fighting public schools in court and come up with the money they are due to compensate them for inflation. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Brewer said aid to schools should be reset to where it would have been had the state properly funded the inflation formula voters mandated in 2000. That figure, according to a judge, would mean an immediate $317 million infusion. In an interview with Arizona Public Radio, the governor acknowledged her own role in shorting the schools. Beginning in 2010 she signed a series of state budgets which were “balanced” by a decision not to fully fund inflation.

“During difficult times we had to do some difficult choices. But the bottom line is, is I think that we need to fund our education system. And they need to figure out some way in order to do that — and uphold the will of the voter,” Gov. Brewer said.

The “they” in Brewer’s suggestion does not include her, as she leaves office at the end of the year. There is enough in the state’s “rainy day fund” to take care of this year’s cost. But, neither of her would-be successors has outlined how to finance the more than $320 million in unexpected expenses next year, and each year beyond.

“And it’s going to be difficult. But, you know, as governor and as lawmakers, that’s your responsibility to figure out how you’re going to do it,” Gov. Brewer said.

Senate President Andy Biggs said he’s not interested in a settlement, at least not at these numbers. He said the figure would have to come closer to $80 million to make him recommend dropping all appeals.

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