DENVER (CBS4)- Gov. John Hickenlooper said if Colorado loses a lawsuit scheduled to go to trial on Monday it would cripple the state budget. The lawsuit was filed by a group of parents and students who claim the state is violating the constitution when it comes to education funding.

At issue is an 1876 clause that requires the state to provide a uniform education system. Attorneys representing the parents said the state has failed to do so.

Attorneys claim the state has inadequately funding public schools. They site studies showing Colorado has imposed mandates on schools that cost billions of dollars to implement, and yet it hasn’t provided the money to do so.

The state said half its budget goes to education. If Colorado loses the lawsuit, almost the entire state budget would go to schools.

“I am the biggest supporter of our kids that you can imagine. But it’s one of those things that if we lost this decision, and suddenly had to find even $2 billion, the consequences to our prison system, to our higher education system, to our health care system would be, I think would be devastating,” said Hickenlooper.

“This is what the framers of the constitution envisioned. This is about a thorough and free uniform system of free public schools to educate our children for the economy and just as important, for our constitutional democracy. This is a constitutional right,” said Plaintiff Attorney Kenzo Kawanabe.

A total of 21 school districts across the state are supporting the lawsuit, including the state’s largest in Jefferson County.

The Attorney General’s office said it has had to hire extra staff and will spend $2 to $3 million defending the state in the lawsuit. Both sides said if they lose, they will appeal.

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