Judge: Colo. fails to provide enough for schools

Study cites need for billions more

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Mr. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, surprised some by naming a Republican, Brian Boatright, to the high court. The move was widely viewed as an effort to swing the court away from a pro-Lobato decision and enable the governor to avoid either an unpopular tax increase or a massive budget cut on his watch.

Still, analysts point out that a ruling against Lobato would require the court to reverse itself on a decision that’s less than three years old.

Judge’s Rappaport’s decision “is a very strongly worded, very overwhelming decision on behalf of the plaintiffs,” said Kevin Welner, professor at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. “As a legal matter, I guess I would expect the [state supreme] court to uphold.”

Others worry that such a ruling would allow the courts essentially to dictate school funding, the situation now facing New Jersey. Earlier this year, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the governor to increase school funding by $500 million.

“The whole practical impact, even more than the shocking dollar amount, is that this would effectively hand over budget authority to the courts and unelected judges,” said Colorado Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer, a former Republican congressman. “The concept of ‘thorough and uniform’ is a definition for the legislature to meet and they do so by majority vote. I think it’s a question that the court should not even take up.”

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