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Adair v. State

Supreme Court of Michigan

December 22, 2014

DANIEL ADAIR et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
STATE OF MICHIGAN, MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, BUDGET DIRECTOR FOR THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, TREASURER FOR THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, and SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION FOR THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, Defendants-Appellants

Page 94

October 9, 2014, Argued, December 22, 2014, Filed

For DANIEL ADAIR, Plaintiff: DENNIS R POLLARD, TROY, MI.

For MICHIGAN STATE OF/DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendant: TIMOTHY J HAYNES, LANSING, MI.

For DAN STERNHAGEN, Plaintiff: DENNIS R POLLARD, TROY, MI.

Chief Justice: Robert P. Young, Jr. Justices: Michael F. Cavanagh, Stephen J. Markman, Mary Beth Kelly, Brian K. Zahra, Bridget M. McCormack, David F. Viviano. CAVANAGH, J. (concurring in part and dissenting in part).

OPINION

BEFORE THE ENTIRE BENCH

Page 95

[497 Mich. 93] Young, C.J.

I. INTRODUCTION

This Court is yet again faced with a challenge to the Legislature's education-related funding appropriation [497 Mich. 94] for state-imposed mandates under the Headlee Amendment.[1] Plaintiffs are taxpayers and school districts seeking a declaratory judgment that the amount of funding appropriated by the Legislature to fund new and increased recordkeeping requirements is materially deficient. Consistent with our construction of the Headlee Amendment and our court rules, we have required that plaintiffs bringing an action charging inadequate funding of a legislative mandate under the Headlee Amendment must allege and prove not only that the funding was insufficient, but the type and extent of the harm. Today we make clear that this burden includes the requirement that the plaintiff show the specific amount of underfunding where the Legislature has made at least some appropriation of funds.

The special master applied this burden of proof and dismissed plaintiffs' claims when plaintiffs stated at trial that they would not provide proofs establishing the specific amount of underfunding. The Court of Appeals reversed, requiring plaintiffs only to provide evidence that the methodology used by the Legislature to determine the amount of the appropriation was materially flawed, and remanded the case to the special master for further proceedings. The Court of Appeals' standard is inconsistent with this Court's longstanding requirement that a plaintiff alleging inadequate funding must show the type and extent of the funding shortfall.

Plaintiffs were properly instructed regarding the burden of proof by the special master before trial and failed to offer proofs concerning the specific amount of the alleged shortfall. Thus, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and enter a judgment in favor of defendants.

[497 Mich. 95] II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A. HISTORY OF ADAIR LITIGATION AND LEGISLATIVE ACTION

The legislatively imposed mandates at issue require that school districts collect and report certain information regarding school district performance to the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI).[2] The CEPI was created through Executive Order 2000-9 and 2000

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PA 297 and is entrusted to " [c]oordinate the collection of all data required by state and federal law from districts, intermediate districts, and postsecondary institutions" [3] and " provide information to school leaders, teachers, researchers, and the public," including " [r]esearch-ready data sets for researchers to perform research that advances this state's educational performance." [4]

Initially, the state did not make an appropriation to fund the CEPI mandate. As a result, in 2000 plaintiffs commenced a Headlee Amendment action in the Court of Appeals. In the first Adair case decided by this Court, we held that the lack of funding for CEPI reporting requirements presented a " colorable claim under Headlee" because the mandates " require[d] the districts to actively participate in maintaining data that the state requires for its own purposes," a requirement that had not existed before that time.[5]

After a few additional trips between this Court and the Court of Appeals, the case culminated in [497 Mich. 96] Adair v Michigan ( Adair I ).[6] In Adair I, this Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' declaratory judgment that the Legislature had violated the prohibition of unfunded mandates (POUM) provision of the Headlee Amendment. We held that, in a case in which the state provides no funding at all to fund a mandate, a POUM Headlee claim does not require proof by a plaintiff of specific increased costs necessitated by the state mandate. In that situation, " a plaintiff need only establish that the state imposed on it a new or increased level of activity without providing any funding to pay for it." [7]

In response to Adair I, the Legislature enacted MCL 388.1752a,[8] which appropriated about $25 million for the 2010-2011 school year to reimburse local school districts for the cost of the CEPI recordkeeping mandate.[9] The Legislature also added an additional CEPI mandate, the teacher-student data link (TSDL), which requires reporting of data to allow districts " to assess [497 Mich. 97] individual teacher impact on student performance." [10] So, for the 2010-2011

Page 97

school year, the Legislature made a separate appropriation in the amount of $8.4 million for the newly created TSDL mandate.[11] For the following school year, 2011-2012, the Legislature appropriated approximately $34 million to cover all of the CEPI record keeping requirements, which included money for the TSDL requirements (the " § 752a appropriation" ).[12] Additionally, for both of these school years, the Legislature made a " discretionary nonmandated payment" (the " § 22b appropriation" ).[13] However, these funds were ...


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