Arizona accused of cheating local schools

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PHOENIX --Education advocates say Arizona will not meet the funding requirements for the K-12 system in the next budget year, which is a violation of its own state constitution. 

The Arizona Supreme Court will hear the case, which centers on the “either/or” language in an education-funding law that was approved by voters 10 years ago. 

Proposition 301 adjusted state spending on programs, including education and transportation. That adjustment called for 2 percent or the rate of inflation, or the lower of the two.

While lawmakers have been funding both programs over the last 10 years, the 2011 fiscal budget funds only one and directs the increase to school transportation.

Interpreting the proposition’s language as an "either/or" option allowed lawmakers to decide between spending less than $5 million on education transportation costs and $61 million on education itself.

If the Supreme Court decides on behalf of the education advocacy groups, it could mean the state Legislature will have to find the additional $61 million in a budget that is already falling far short.

The Supreme Court will hear the case on Sept. 21.

The 2011 fiscal year begins July 1.