LAE Moves Forward with Legal Challenges Despite Judge's Refusal To Halt Voucher Funding
LAE Moves Forward with Legal Challenges Despite Judge’s Refusal To Halt Voucher Funding
State District Judge Says Law Doesn’t Give Him Authority To Order State To Refrain From Spending
Baton Rouge, LA – July 10, 2012 – A Baton Rouge judge found that he did not possess the authority to enjoin the funding of two new, Jindal-backed education laws. The decision came down in Judge Tim Kelley’s courtroom Tuesday after the state’s commissioner of administration and education superintendent submitted affidavits claiming that enjoining implementation of the school voucher program would create a deficit in Louisiana’s education budget. LAE President Joyce Haynes said that while today’s decision was an unfavorable one, the association’s lawsuit still stands.
“This is not a battle over our constitutional rights; it’s a battle to protect the constitutional rights of Louisiana’s school children—all of them,” said Haynes. “Our state’s constitution promises to maintain a public education system for every child in Louisiana and that’s exactly what we’re trying to protect. Judge Kelley did not rule that the governor’s education laws are constitutional, he just refused to order the state to refrain from spending while the case is in progress.”
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater and State Superintendent of Education John White claim that delaying the funding of Act 2—the voucher bill—and Senate Concurrent Resolution 99—the Minimum Foundation Program resolution—would create a $3.4 billion deficit in the Louisiana Department of Education budget. According to Kelley, state law doesn’t provide him with the authority to issue an order for the state to refrain from funding the programs created by the challenged laws, prior to trial. Kelley said he will rule on the legality of Act 2 and SCR 99 at a future trial. The question now is whether the money disbursed can be recouped if the case is ruled in favor of the LAE.
LAE, along with other state education organizations, maintain the argument that Act 2 and SCR 99 are unconstitutional, as they direct the use of the state’s public school financing formula to pay for tuition for some students to attend private and parochial schools.
“We will aggressively continue our appeal to the courts to examine unconstitutional practices of Governor Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature because we champion the rights of school district tax payers, parents, and all students to receive the tax dollars promised to them by the Louisiana Constitution,” said Haynes. “We stand behind our commitment to make sure that every child in Louisiana has access to a quality education in our public school system.”
The next step is to proceed to the court of appeals in order to have Tuesday’s ruling reviewed.
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