In declaring Colorado's school finance system "significantly underfunded," Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport rejected virtually every argument presented by the state's star witnesses in a five-week trial this year over school funding levels.
Rappaport's ruling, issued Friday, blasted the state's level of school funding as "unconscionable" and not meeting the requirement in the Education Clause of the Colorado Constitution of a "thorough and uniform" system of public education. Her ruling handed the problem off to lawmakers to fix, and the judge said she wouldn't revisit her ruling any earlier than the end of the 2012 legislative session.
The decision, which could have multibillion-dollar consequences, is virtually guaranteed to be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court. Lawmakers have said it's highly unlikely they would refer a tax measure to voters for more school funding, especially since voters in November shot down an initiative to raise $3 billion for education.