Judge orders Arizona to boost school funding now

PHOENIX - A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ordered the state to immediately increase funding to public schools this budget year by nearly $317 million.

The order from Judge Katherine Cooper released Thursday formalizes a ruling she made last month requiring the state to boost funding to make up for inflation. Cooper has set hearings for October to decide if the state must also make back payments to schools for money it didn't provide starting in the 2009 budget year.

Gov. Jan Brewer said last month an appeal was planned.

The judgment could cost more than $1.6 billion over five years. If Cooper orders back payments the number increases to about $2.9 billion.

The state Supreme Court ruled last year that inflation adjustments are required. Lawmakers cut them during the recession.

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