HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) - Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock announced a $4.6 million settlement with the Montana Quality Education Coalition on Thursday to fund an inflationary adjustment for schools and to avoid costly litigation.
"The settlement agreement reflects the legislature's obligation to adequately fund quality public schools," Bullock said. "The terms of the settlement will provide Montana schools with an additional $4.6 million, which represents the full adjustment for inflation specified in Montana law - and that's good news for students and schools throughout our state."
The 2011 Montana Legislature initially approved a bill to give public schools in the state a 2.43 percent increase for inflation for fiscal year 2013. At the same time, legislators put language in a school funding bill SB 329, cutting the funding if an unrelated bill, HB 316, did not pass or was vetoed.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer then vetoed HB 316, reducing the inflationary increase for public schools. HB 316 was concerned with the transfer of earmarked revenue to the state general fund. Upon vetoing the bill, the inflationary adjustment for schools for state fiscal year 2013 was reduced from a 2.43 percent increase to 1.6 percent.
The MQEC alleged that the drop in inflationary increase led to a shortfall in base aid of approximately $4.6 million. The settlement corrected the alleged base aid shortfall.
The schools will receive $4,632,776 in total.