JUNE 10, 2005 - Posted at 7:15 a.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Huckabee says the state Supreme Court's decision to reopn the school funding case a year after it was closed is indefensible. Huckabee said yesterday, after the decision was announced, that members of the state's highest court are legislating from the bench.
The Supreme Court said it would call again upon two former justices who had previously served as special masters in the case, to review what the Legislature has done since the court relinquished control last year. The court cited serious complaints by public school districts over alleged flaws in next year's state budget.
Justices voted 4-3 to revisit the long-running school funding dispute that many legislators believed had been resolved a year ago. Legislators meeting in special session last year made sweeping changes in the 450,000-student school system. But 47 districts sued, saying Arkansas took a step backward when it approved a 2005-06 budget that doesn't increase per-student spending.
Justice Robert Brown said the complaints were "of the most serious kind." State lawyers argued that recalling a case that had been declared closed would be improper and that districts would have to raise complaints in a completely new case.
But Brown wrote that making the districts start from scratch with a new lawsuit would not benefit students today. Brown wrote that the Legislature took important steps a year ago and the high court will ensure the House and Senate stay on course.