Arizona attorney general appealing dismissal of university tuition lawsuit

Jun 21, 2018, 4:59 AM | Updated: 1:43 pm
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)...
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is appealing a judge’s decision that said he has no legal right to sue universities over their tuition rates.

In April, Maricopa County Superior Court judge Connie Contes said the state attorney general has no authority to file a lawsuit challenging tuition hikes at Arizona’s three public universities: Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.

Brnovich disagreed and filed an appeal on Wednesday.

“We think the appellate courts, the state Supreme Court needs to visit this issue because, the reality is, if the attorney general can’t file a lawsuit to enforce the constitution of our state, then who can?” he said.

Brnovich said in-state tuition rates in Arizona have “gone straight up like a rocket” over the last decade, which he said violates the state Constitution. He noted there’s a provision that states public universities must be “as nearly free as possible.”

Tuition at the state’s three public universities has increased significantly since the 2008-2009 school year. That year, tuition for state residents at Arizona State University was $5,318. For the University of Arizona, it was $5,274 and for Northern Arizona University it was $5,424.

Since then, those rates have doubled at all three universities.

“I think that we have made college inaccessible for a lot of people,” Brnovich said, adding that higher education “is the ticket to upward mobility in our society.”

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Arizona attorney general appealing dismissal of university tuition lawsuit