Yesterday, DEED released the one-time $20 million education funding allocated for the current fiscal year (FY19). Based on the Governor's decision to release these funds, CEE has received questions about the status of our current lawsuit that sought a Court Order directing the release of the funds. After discussing this with our legal counsel, we can summarize where the existing case stands.
We received yesterday (6/12/19) an answer filed on behalf of the Governor in response to our lawsuit. In this response, the AG made some significant admissions about the reasons for the Governor's actions and raised several affirmative defenses. First, the Governor offers a new justification for his actions (he originally stated that he was waiting to release the funds until the Legislature took action on his proposed legislation repealing the funding). In the answer filed, the Governor states that the FY19 $20 million one-time appropriation was unconstitutional and the Governor is not "bound to execute an unconstitutional statute". We will take a stand on this defense by arguing at the appropriate time that the appropriation was not unconstitutional and the Governor does not have the luxury to pick and choose what laws to enforce without a Court ruling that a law is unconstitutional. The Governor is not the judiciary and is not above the law.
Second, the AG asserts the case is moot because the funds have now been paid. We will challenge this position as well because the payment of funds does not erase the wrongful conduct by the Governor in the first place. The Governor illegally impounded the funds for political leverage and cannot be allowed to do so again. If not challenged now, the Governor may attempt to do same thing in the future to hold up funding approved by the legislature.
We are pleased that the Governor finally released the FY19 funds, but remain disappointed that the administration held up funding for our schools until the 11th hour. We will continue standing up for what was passed into law and will continue to fight for our students.
For now, we will sit tight to see how the Forward Funding and additional one-time $30 million appropriation for FY2020 plays out in the political process. If the Governor does not release all of the funds, we will consider amending the current case to add a new claim that the Governor has failed to faithfully execute and carry out lawful appropriations for education. Based on our legal review, the forward funding is constitutional. We do not currently anticipate having to do anything further until July 15th when we know for certain the funding picture and we will be prepared to take immediate legal action at that time, if needed.
Please contact us if you have any questions.