Leandro judge rules plan is underfunded by $785 million, won’t order transfer | Beaufort County Now | The judge in North Carolina’s long-running Leandro school funding legal dispute calls for state government to spend an additional $785 million on education-related items.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    The judge in North Carolina's long-running Leandro school funding legal dispute calls for state government to spend an additional $785 million on education-related items. But he has jettisoned a controversial provision from a previous court ruling that raised constitutional concerns.

    Special Superior Court Judge Michael Robinson will not order officials to transfer money out of the state treasury to cover the $785 million in new spending. The money is slated to cover items spelled out in a court-ordered Comprehensive Remedial Plan for state education.

    Another judge's $1.75 billion spending order issued on Nov. 10, 2021, had included a provision demanding that state executive branch officials transfer money to state agencies without the General Assembly's input. It was that portion of the Nov. 10 order that prompted the latest legal dispute in the Leandro case.

    "[T]he Court acknowledges that the Court of Appeals has already ruled on the enforceability of the 10 November Order," Robinson wrote in his 26-page order. "[O]n 30 November 2021, a panel of the Court of Appeals ruled that 'the trial court's conclusion that it may order petitioner to pay unappropriated funds from the State Treasury is constitutionally impermissible and beyond the power of the trial court.'"

    "The Court of Appeals' 30 November Order has not been overruled or modified, and the undersigned concludes that it is binding on the trial court," Robinson added. "Accordingly, this court cannot and shall not consider the legal issue of the trial court's authority to order State officers to transfer funds from the State treasury to fund the CRP. Rather, the undersigned believes that this court should, by an amended order, comply with the Court of Appeals' determination."

    With Robinson's decision to limit his order's scope, it's unclear what will happen next in the case. The case already is scheduled to return to the N.C. Supreme Court. But that court was scheduled to address the constitutional issue of whether a trial judge can force state officials to transfer money.

    Now that the issue of a judicially ordered money transfer is off the table, the state Supreme Court might not have an active dispute to consider.

    "Judge Robinson's order is a first step toward correcting his predecessor's unconstitutional overreach," said Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation. "It bodes well for his ongoing stewardship of a case that regrettably continues in perpetuity."

    As for the funding piece of Robinson's order, the judge agreed with all parties in the case that a state budget enacted last Nov. 18 - eight days after the earlier court order - funds significant portions of the CRP. The judge's final numbers differed to some degree from those offered by plaintiffs and state government lawyers.

    While most parties in the case had called on Robinson to whittle the original $1.75 billion spending order down to $795 million and then $770 million, the judge settled on $785 million.

    Specifically, he ordered $608,006,248 in new funding for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, $142,900,000 for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, and $34,200,000 for the University of North Carolina System.

    Robinson ordered that the two state departments and UNC System "have and recover from the State of North Carolina" the $785 million. The judge did not say anything about how the money would reach its intended target.

    The state Supreme Court sent the case to Robinson on March 21. Justices initially gave Robinson 30 days to determine how the state budget affected the original $1.75 billion order issued by his predecessor, Judge David Lee. Last week, Robinson asked for an additional seven days to finish his work.

    Tuesday's order arrived one day before his extended deadline.

    The Leandro case, officially known now as Hoke County Board of Education v. State of N.C., started with an initial complaint in 1994. The state Supreme Court has issued two major rulings in the dispute in 1997 and 2004.

    The state's highest court had agreed to hear the case again after State Controller Linda Combs convinced the Appeals Court to block Lee's Nov. 10 order. Combs argued that state law prevented her from transferring any money out of the state treasury without the legislature's approval.
Go Back

HbAD0

Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Billionaire Elon Musk unloaded on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in a series of tweets on Tuesday after Warren suggested without evidence that Musk does not pay taxes because of a “rigged tax code.”
Democrat President Joe Biden was mocked over the weekend for bragging about flying 70,000 pounds of baby formula from Europe to the U.S. as his administration has faced criticism for the shortage of baby formula across the country.
The US dollar is losing value as a result of burgeoning Biden-flation. Before we all end up homeless, let's take some time to reflect on some things that are more valuable than the money in your bank account. Maybe you can barter for some of these killer items before it's too late!
San Francisco Democrat Mayor London Breed appears to have reversed course on her support for defunding the police, a far-left movement that is well outside the mainstream, and is now calling those same progressive policies “the bulls*** that has destroyed our city.”
On Tuesday night, Val Applewhite won the Democrat primary for North Carolina’s 19th state Senate District with 56.3% of the vote. Incumbent state Sen. Kirk deViere came in second with 36.8% of the vote.

HbAD1

Now that the body of a man shot in the head has been discovered in the receding waters of drought-ravaged Lake Mead in Nevada, two Mafia experts speculate he could be one of three men connected to the Mafia who mysteriously disappeared.
At a donor event this week, President Biden tried his hand at focus group-tested insults, calling Trump the "Great MAGA King" to mixed reviews.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki faced intense questions on Tuesday over a variety of issues facing the administration as it battles low approval ratings from the American public.
Now that President Biden has attempted to palliate the American public during the gas price crisis by raiding the critical Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), it has reached the lowest level in 35 years.
Authorities discovered an incapacitated father Thursday night while following up on reports of a possible domestic disturbance.

HbAD2

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden downplayed concerns that many Americans have about his vaccine mandates going too far and encroaching on their individual freedoms.

HbAD3

 
Back to Top