League of Arizona Cities & Towns v. Martin

In League of Arizona Cities & Towns v. Martin, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously held that a provision in the fiscal year 2008–2009 general appropriations act, requiring the cities and towns of Arizona to return $18.3 million to the state general fund, was not an appropriation. Imperative to the court’s conclusion was the legislature’s inability to identify a specific appropriation reduced by the provision. However, an extended analysis of the undisclosed source of the requested $18.3 million reveals what the court did not address: the legislature attempted to appropriate revenue that was constitutionally mandated to be spent only on a discrete number of highway-related purposes. This extended analysis reveals that although the legislature’s attempt to recoup funds from Arizona cities and towns technically met the requirements of an appropriation, it explicitly contravened a separate provision of the Arizona Constitution governing the expenditure of those funds. As a secondary matter, the court held that laches did not apply to bar the claim due both to the reasonable nature of the delay and lack of prejudice.