PHOENIX — Rejecting a last minute plea for a reprieve, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered state officials to immediately start coughing up more than $300 million for public schools.

It is abundantly clear that voters ordered state aid to schools to be adjusted annually for inflation, Judge Katherine Cooper said. And the evidence also shows lawmakers ignored that mandate for several years, she said.

Attorneys for the state argued there still is an open legal question of whether schools should now get the $1.3 billion they should have received in the past but did not. And Cooper has scheduled a hearing for October to hear arguments.

But the judge said there is absolutely no reason to delay the immediate adjustment of the inflation formula to what it should have been had the 2000 voter-approved law been followed.

Cooper's ruling, made public today, is not expected to be the last word. State officials are expected to appeal.

But attorney Donald Peters, who represents the school districts that successfully sued, said the money should start flowing — and now — to ensure that the money is available to help students.