Opinion: Mark Brnovich has failed to help ASU students

Despite his many lawsuits, Arizona's Attorney General has hurt more students than he has helped

When Arizona’s eccentric top-lawyer isn’t suing California billionaires for calling him "corrupt," he’s busy suing the Arizona Board of Regents.

Last April, Attorney General Mark Brnovich successfully won an Arizona Supreme Court case blocking Dreamers from receiving in-state tuition from Arizona universities and community colleges. 

The result has had a chilling effect on Dreamer enrollment across the state. Dreamers are now utilizing private scholarships now that their tuition has increased, as reported by The State Press.

Brnovich's lawsuits have failed to help ASU students and instead have proven harmful to a number of those in the student body. 

Karina Ruiz, the president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, said, “Our options are limited, we don’t have access to financial aid, federally or state. So that makes it near impossible for us to pursue any sort of higher education.”

In 2017, Brnovich filed a lawsuit against ABOR, alleging that the board has not kept with Arizona’s constitutional requirement to keep universities "as nearly free as possible."

His lawsuit was dismissed last spring by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Connie Contes who said that Brnovich lacked standing to bring the case forward as he would need the authorization of either the legislature or the governor. 

Brnovich was re-elected in November with slightly over 53 percent of the vote. In his January inauguration address, he pledged to continue the fight “to stop skyrocketing tuition at our public universities.” 

He has since appealed the court’s decision. However, Brnovich's tuition pricing lawsuit won’t accomplish a reduction in tuition costs and it goes after the wrong people. 

Related: Arizona Attorney General files appeal in ABOR tuition lawsuit

His lawsuit targets ABOR, but it is the Arizona Legislature that has continually hacked away at funding for state universities and secondary education while enrollment increased. As of 2018, the state funds 34 percent of the cost of tuition, down from 75 percent pre-recession, according to the ABOR's state budget request. 

Meanwhile, Brnovich has filed yet another lawsuit against ABOR over ASU’s leasing of tax-exempt land to private businesses. In doing this, Brnovich has gone after a source of revenue for the University while claiming a desire to lower tuition costs. 

Yet Brnovich has not gone after the legislature for abrogating their role in upholding the constitutional requirement. He has instead opted to target ABOR and kick Dreamers while they’re down. 

Real help for Arizona’s students will not come out of a myriad of lawsuits against ABOR. Instead, it is high time that Arizona’s legislature takes up its constitutional responsibility to Arizona’s students.

According to the ABOR budget request, the state would fund 50 percent of tuition costs through a funding model. Arizona lawmakers have additionally begun drafting legislation that would lower the cost of tuition for DACA students within the boundaries of the law, as reported by the State Press. 

If the Attorney General is serious about helping students in Arizona, he should work with the legislature to provide funding that would allow Arizona universities to lower tuition. 

Reach the columnist at djrubio2@asu.edu and follow @DanielRubioAZ on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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