May 20, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: “Negative Factor” Regarding School Funding Does Not Conflict with Amendment 23

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dwyer v. State on Monday, September 21, 2015.

Constitutional Interpretation—Amendment 23—Public School Finance Act of 1994—Negative Factor.

In this original proceeding, the Supreme Court considered the legality of the “negative factor,” a legislative enactment that operates to reduce education funding across all Colorado school districts. Plaintiffs argued that the negative factor is unconstitutional because it violates Amendment 23, a constitutional provision requiring annual increases to “statewide base per pupil funding.” The Court concluded that plaintiffs’ complaint misconstrued the relationship between the negative factor and Amendment 23. By its plain language, Amendment 23 only requires increases to 20 statewide base per pupil funding, not to total per pupil funding. The Court therefore held that the negative factor does not violate Amendment 23. Accordingly, the Court made its rule to show cause absolute, and it remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

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