Archive for Friday, February 27, 2004

Sebelius signs bill to hasten school finance appeal

February 27, 2004


— Moments after it reached her desk, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill Friday permitting a speedy appeal of a judge's preliminary order finding Kansas' school finance law unconstitutional.

The measure lets the state bypass the normal requirement that a judge's order become final before it can be appealed -- in this case, to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Shawnee County District Judge Terry Bullock issued his preliminary order in December and plans to issue a final ruling July 1, after considering suggestions from the state and plaintiff school districts on possible remedies.

Many legislators believe an appeal of Bullock's final ruling is inevitable, and want the Supreme Court's guidance on school finance as soon as possible.

The bill allowing a quick appeal reached Sebelius about 10:30 a.m. Friday, and she signed it as soon as she and her staff had a chance to review it.

Ruling in a 1999 lawsuit filed by parents and administrators in Salina and Dodge City, Bullock said state aid for school districts is inadequate and unfairly distributed. He suggested that the roughly $2.6 billion in annual state aid should be raised by as much as $1 billion.

Attorney General Phill Kline and attorneys for the plaintiffs discussed the case Thursday with Bullock, who said he would consider a joint request to appeal the preliminary ruling to the Supreme Court. By law, Bullock must consider any request.

Lawsuit appeal is SB 324.

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