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Perspective | School funding ruling could spark constitutional and fiscal crisis

The following was a John Locke Foundation online event held on Monday, June 22.

With a North Carolina court ruling expected any day in the school finance “adequacy” case known as Leandro v. State of North Carolina, concerns are growing over whether Superior Court Judge David Lee will defy the separation of powers in the North Carolina Constitution and force state lawmakers to dramatically increase state funding of public schools.

The plaintiffs and defendants have already submitted their desired action plan to the judge. If he follows that plan, North Carolina taxpayers would be forced to add more than $400 million to the $9.7 billion spent on public schools last year. With state revenues devastated by COVID-19, taxpayers would be left with a huge bill at the worst possible time.

Just as troubling, a forced-funding court order would turn the North Carolina Constitution on its head, taking the power to appropriate money away from the legislature and giving it to the judicial branch. In this conversation, our experts will look at the possible scenarios, the experience of other states that are operating under these types of orders, research on the relationship between funding and outcomes, and the overall impact on school kids, parents, taxpayers, and policymakers.

John Locke Foundation

The John Locke Foundation was created in 1990 as an independent, nonprofit think tank that would work “for truth, for freedom, for the future of North Carolina.”