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Judge rules in Pima County's favor in state funding dispute

Posted at 10:41 PM, Jul 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-06 01:41:27-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — A judge has ruled that it is illegal for the state to hit up Tucson taxpayers for millions of dollars to pay for the cost of desegregation programs.

Last year, the state legislature added a new requirement that a school district must pay any expenses associated with running a desegregation program. They called it a secondary property tax and it would have fallen on Tucson Unified taxpayers.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry says the county felt it was an illegal tax, and so the Board of Supervisors did not levy it. But TUSD was going to come up over $8 million short.

Last month, a judge sided with the county and TUSD, ruling the state had to cover the costs. It's called additional state aid, and it's historically paid for by the state.

It's not the first time a judge has ruled in the county's favor over a funding dispute. In 2016, the state tried to cap additional state aid at $1 million, leaving the rest of the costs up to taxpayers to fund local school districts.

To put that in perspective, here's one way Pima County taxpayers would have been affected if the state won the case.

The county is putting about $26 million to pavement repair this year, one of their top priorities. But Huckelberry says that funding would have taken a significant hit, if they had to cover the state tax.