Maricopa County Superior Court Presiding Civil Judge Robert Oberbillig ruled today the Quality Education and Jobs initiative can move forward to allow the 290,000 signatures to be validated. That process is expected to take 10 days; however, the trial court’s decision may still be appealed.
In oral argument this morning, Judge Oberbillig eviscerated the Assistant Attorney General who could not finish answering one question before the Judge moved to his next. Judge Oberbillig focused on the stipulated fact that 290,000 people signed a ballot that contained all the initiative language – not the printed copy filed with the Secretary of State that omitted two paragraphs detailing how millions in revenue will be spent.
Judge Oberbillig did not see the issue as complicated, stating the Secretary had discretion to either ask for a complete copy or substitute the disc filed with his office that contained the complete ballot language to avoid thwarting the will of the voters. The stipulated facts did not reveal any fraud perpetuated on the voters. The judge repeatedly asked where in the law does it state the Secretary of State lacks discretion? The Assistant Attorney General pointed to the last decade of practice and procedure within the Secretary Office, but Judge Oberbillig pointed to a recent Arizona Supreme court case that showed the test is whether voters were confused about the substance. In this case, the electorate signed the full ballot initiative and were not confused, according to Judge Oberbillig.
Former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Stanley Feldman had little to say after listening to the judge’s grilling of the Assistant Attorney General, but he did point to cases “we have decided” since he has ruled on seminal Arizona school finance cases.
The initiative has several hurdles to clear including a potential appeal and signature validation. The initiative may be divisive as it moves forward, and the Association will provide its own analysis for members to review as the appellate process moves forward. The Association’s analysis will be done with Dr. Anabel Apotela who is now with the Association. Anabel previously led the Arizona Business & Education Coalition K-12 school finance reform project. Anabel has been researcher with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education and has worked at the Arizona Department of Education, having served as the Director of Research & Policy, responsible for the analysis and reporting of student assessment and school accountability results. Anabel also has worked on school finance adequacy projects in Wisconsin, Wyoming, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Arizona. She holds a B.A. in Public Policy, an M.A. in Education Policy from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Colorado, cities in California and Idaho defeated recent initiatives to support education while in 2012, California and Oregon will look to bring the question of increased K-12 funding to their voters too.
Los Angeles and San Diego California
UPCOMING IN NOVEMBER 2012: