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Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

Timeline of events in school finance lawsuit

June 22, 2006

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1999: A group of minority students and 14 mid-sized school districts challenge the school finance law as discriminatory against minorities and disabled students. The state seeks dismissal.

Dec. 2, 2003: Shawnee County District Court Judge Terry Bullock rules the system unconstitutional and gives lawmakers until July 1 to correct it.

May 8, 2004: The Legislature adjourns, rejecting numerous proposals to increase school funding.

May 11, 2004: Bullock issues order to stop school funding June 30.

May 19, 2004: Kansas Supreme Court stops Bullock's order and takes up case.

Jan. 3, 2005: Kansas Supreme Court says the school finance system violates the Kansas Constitution and gives lawmakers until April 12, 2005, to fix it.

March 30, 2005: Legislators pass a $142 million school finance package. The plan also allows local districts to increase local property taxes to fund extra programs.

June 3, 2005: Kansas Supreme Court orders legislators to increase school funding by an additional $143 million by July 1. The court also said absent a valid cost study, it could order additional spending of nearly $600 million.

June 22, 2005: Legislature goes into special session, but many Republican lawmakers are reluctant to let the court dictate how much should be spent on schools and seek to amend the state constitution.

July 2, 2005: Kansas Supreme Court threatens to close the state's public schools if the Legislature doesn't meet its order to increase school funding.

July 6, 2005: Legislature approves a $148.4 million increase aimed at keeping schools open.

July 8, 2005: The Kansas Supreme Court approves the new school finance law as a temporary fix pending results of the cost study.

Jan. 9, 2006: Cost study done by the Legislative Division of Post-Audit says $400 million increase is needed for the next school year.

May 9, 2006: Legislature approves three-year $466 million increase for public schools, which includes $194.5 million for the next school year.

Today: Oral arguments on whether the new funding plan is constitutional.

The Kansas Supreme Court

The seven-person Kansas Supreme Court is the highest court for civil and criminal cases in the state. Justices are selected by governors, who receive a list of three individuals submitted by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission.

After the first year in office, a justice is subject to a retention vote in the next general election. If a majority of votes are for retention, the justice remains in office for a six-year term before coming up for retention again.

Who they are:

¢ Chief Justice Kay McFarland, 70, is a Topeka native and graduate of the Washburn University School of Law. McFarland has served on the court since 1977 and became chief justice in 1995.

¢ Donald Allegrucci, 69, is a Pittsburg native and graduate of the Washburn University School of Law. Allegrucci was appointed to the court in 1987 by then-Gov. John Carlin. He had earlier served in various judicial and state positions, including a stint as a state senator from 1976-80.

¢ Robert Davis, 66, is a native of Topeka and received his law degree from Georgetown University. Davis served in various judicial positions before being appointed to the court in 1993.

¢ Lawton Nuss, 53, is a Salina native and received his law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1982. Nuss also received his bachelor's degree from KU and then served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was appointed to the court in 2002. Nuss has removed himself from further proceedings in the school finance case because of a conversation he had with two legislators about pending school finance legislation. He faces a disciplinary hearing in the matter.

¢ Marla Luckert, 50, is a native of Goodland and received her law degree from Washburn University School of Law. She served as a district court judge before her appointment in 2003 to the court.

¢ Carol Beier, 47, is a native of Kansas City, Kan., and received her bachelor's and law degrees from Kansas University. She joined the court in 2003.

¢ Eric Rosen, 53, was born in Topeka and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Kansas University. He worked as a social worker and then earned his law degree from Washburn University in 1984. He served as a district court judge before being placed in November as the newest member of the Supreme Court.

Today's oral arguments

The state will argue first and be represented by Alok Ahuja, an attorney with Lathrop & Gage, who is scheduled to speak for about 15 minutes and will reserve 10 minutes for rebuttal.

Stephen McAllister, a Kansas University law professor, who recently was appointed to the new position of legislative counsel, will speak for 15 minutes, serving as a special assistant to the Attorney General's Office.

Defendant State Board of Education will argue next and be represented by Dan Biles, who will speak for 15 minutes and will reserve five minutes for rebuttal.

Plaintiff school districts will then argue and be represented by Alan Rupe, of Wichita, who has one hour.

After Rupe is finished, the court will hear the rebuttals from Ahuja and Biles.

The proceedings start at 9:30 a.m. and will be available live on the Internet and can be accessed on the Kansas Supreme Court's Web site, kscourts.org. They are scheduled to last approximately two hours.

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