Local Headlines
4:52 pm
Fri January 22, 2010

Teachers file suit by lawmakers

Phoenix, AZ – When Arizona became a state in 1912 it got 10 million acres of
land from the federal government, mostly to support public
education. Proceeds from what is sold off go into a special trust
fund. But last August the Legislature let the Land Department
keep up to 10 percent of each year's proceeds to fund its
operations. Attorney Tim Hogan who is representing the teachers
wants the state Supreme Court to rule that violates both the
federal enabling act that gave the land to Arizona and the state
constitution.

(They're taking money from the school trust fund to give to a
state agency, the Arizona State Land Department. And this money
is supposed to go to schools.)

He pointed out that voters decided a decade ago to earmark a
percentage of the interest on trust proceeds for things like
teacher salaries and smaller classes. Hogan figures that, based
on current trust income, that denies the interest on nearly $15
million a year. Backers of the measure said at the time that
diverting the money aids schools in the long run because it will
help the Land Department better market the property for sale,
presumably at higher prices.

(Well, they can make all the policy arguments they want. The
enabling act and the constitution are quite clear what happens to
money generated by state trust land. They go to the
beneficiaries.)

The high court has not decided whether to hear the case. For
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.