Suthers assails school funds ruling in appeal
A Denver district court judge erred when she declared the state’s school finance system unconstitutional, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Monday in his appeal of that ruling.
Additionally, Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport was wrong when she failed to weigh how the state funds public schools and other non-education programs, unfairly denied certain witnesses from testifying, and inappropriately ruled on a “non-justiciable political question.”
The case, Lobato v. Colorado, was filed in 2005 by a group of parents on behalf of their public school children from around the state. It alleges that the Colorado Legislature has failed to fund schools adequately despite imposing increasingly expensive mandates on them.
But Suthers, appealing the decision on behalf of the governor’s office and the Colorado Legislature, said the ruling failed to consider other aspects of how the state funds other government programs.
Several of the 14 issues he’s appealing include Rappaport’s failure to “harmonize” how schools are funded with other restrictions on the state, including the revenue-limiting Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the property-tax limiting Gallagher Amendment, and Amendment 23, which requires increased funding for schools regardless of how much money the state can collect during a recession.
Suthers said Rappaport also erred when she barred defendants from presenting evidence of other funding mandates the state is required to follow that prevent it from spending more money on schools.
Lawmakers say that if the ruling stands, it could require the state to double the $3.1 billion it already spends on public education, which would make it impossible to fund other needed state programs, such as prisons and transportation.