The State of Alaska has filed an emergency motion for a stay with the Alaska Supreme Court pending the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s lawsuit challenging the required local contribution for public education.
The state had filed an emergency motion for a stay last week with Ketchikan Superior Court Judge William Carey, but he was about to leave town on vacation and wasn’t able to act quickly. In its motion filed with the Supreme Court, the state argues that Carey effectively denied its emergency motion by setting a schedule that wouldn’t allow for a decision sooner than Feb. 23.
The state wants a decision on the stay no later than Feb. 17 because the Legislature is meeting now, making budget decisions, and lawmakers need to know whether municipalities will continue to pay part of the bill for public school.
The motion adds that Feb. 18 is the statutory deadline for the governor to propose a revised budget.
If the stay is denied, the state will have to figure out how to fill an approximately $300 million budget gap for education funding.
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough filed its lawsuit against the state about a year ago. In November, Judge Carey issued a preliminary ruling, agreeing with the borough’s argument that the required local contribution is essentially a tax earmarked for a special purpose, and therefore violates the Alaska Constitution.
Carey issued his final ruling in late January, and the state filed its appeal with his court just a few days later.