Archive for Monday, March 20, 2006

Sebelius urges lawmakers to come up with school finance funding

Governor indicates special session could be called

March 20, 2006


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today told lawmakers to increase school funding, pay for it with expansion of gambling or face a possible special legislative session.

With a gambling bill dead in the Senate, and many lawmakers balking at larger increases for schools, the Legislature appeared deadlocked.

"Passing an inadequate school finance plan is the fastest way to guarantee another special session," Sebelius said.

Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the school finance system unconstitutional because it shortchanged all students, especially minorities. The ruling forced a special session and led to a $290 million, or 10 percent increase in school funding.

The court also told the state to do a cost study on the actual costs of education. That cost study has called for another $400 million increase.

Sebelius and legislative leaders have endorsed plans that follow the cost study's guidelines but phase in the increase over three years.

But some lawmakers are calling for a one-year plan from between $165 million and $185 million.

Sebelius said that one-year proprosals would fall short of what the court wants.

She called on legislators to increase their efforts and try to have school finance proposals ready before they take a break in two weeks.


Porter 12 years, 1 month ago

What happens if they don't get it done? If the legislature does not follow an order from the State Supreme Court, what happens? I don't think this was covered in government class. Maybe because our school couldn't afford it....

Richard Heckler 12 years, 1 month ago

Seems like we have a host of primaily republican legislators suffering from ADD. They cannot seem to focus long enough on matters of substance and perhaps should seek therapy. It seems the most effective therapy would be resigning from office the sooner the better. Thereby allowing Kansas to move forward instead of any other direction.

Instead of concerning themselves with how judges are appointed how about dealing with school finance. Failing to do so is a huge waste of Kansas taxpayer dollars.

Godot 12 years, 1 month ago

Porter, they didn't cover this in school because it wasn't supposed to happen. Until last year, one would not have thought that the court would overstep its bounds and usurp the power the legislature has to set budgets and taxes.

Godot 12 years, 1 month ago

So, was the gambling lobby behind the school funding lawsuit? Seems like it, if the Gov says the only solution to the problem that she will accept is legalized gambling.

avhjmlk 12 years, 1 month ago

Yes, but the court does have the authority to determine whether the Legislature is providing the constitutionally-mandated education it is required to provide, and that means they have to come up with some way to measure whether that educaiton is being provided. That's what the contracted cost study did a few years ago, and what the Post Audit study did this time. It's easy in a case of, say, theft to determine that a) something was stolen, b) who stole it, c) how much it was worth, and d) how much restitution/jail time the guilty party has to pay/do to restore the victim to his/her original state.

Here, the court's job isn't so easy. They've determined that something was "stolen"--namely, the education kids are supposed to be getting in the state. They know "who" stole it--the Legislature isn't providing enought $ for kids to get the education they're required to get in the state. What they needed to do was determine how much that education was worth (i.e. have a study done to determine what it costs to provide the necessary education--2 studies were done in Kansas). They also have to determine how much "restitution" is required to make the state's education system whole--how much the studies say education costs minus what the state currently provides ($-wise) = the amount of restitution. Or, in this case, at least $400 million.

avhjmlk 12 years, 1 month ago

Godot, it's not that the only way to pay for the schools is gambling--that's just the only way to do it without a tax increase, which is something that would never pass our Legislature in its current form.

Porter 12 years, 1 month ago

I was wondering how the governor's name would get pulled through the mud on this one. Thanks for not letting us down, Godot.

I understand how officers of the court can obtain restitution from an individual or business if found guilty of breaking a law (like the theft example). What can the court due to a legislature? If the legislature refuses to comply, what happens?

avhjmlk 12 years, 1 month ago

Well, I think last year before the supreme court's decision was handed down, people talked about the threat of the sup ct shutting down the public schools. That seems so extreme to me, I can't really imagine it happening. I think that's the big sticking point here. Those against providing the funding that the court-ordered studies have said is necessary will say the court can't do anything to them. Those who want to provide the funding are afraid of what the court might actually do...

Porter 12 years, 1 month ago

Thanks, avhjmlk.

I guess shutting down the public schools is one way to get the legislature's attention, but would it accomplish anything? There would be nothing but blame thrown around.

usaschools 12 years, 1 month ago

I am not really surprised at the obvious lack of understanding of this issue by several of the posters here. The judges who very conservatively upheld the constitution were anything but "leftist." This "blame the activist judges" line is a lame sophism that should be put to rest before the morons who actually believe this drivel weaken our independent judiciary, threatening our entire constitutional system. Do you really want courts that respond to majority opinion? Do you really think the majority is always right about everything? Do you really think the majority have even a CLUE about the issues a court deals with? Anyway, this is the FOURTH cost study showing a need for increased funding for our schools. It is a needed and necessary thing for Kansas. It is not easy and it will take political courage, but it has to be done. We cut taxes like fools for the last 10-15 years with no rhyme or reason, now the chickens have come home to roost.

Stephen Roberts 12 years, 1 month ago

I think cutting the budget in other areas is good. Lets start with the judicial branch. Make this branch more self sufficient. Make them have to raise the court costs. Gov. Sebelius made the Secretary of State raise their fees for annual reports.

Or even better yet. Put 1 schoold admin person on one side of a lock gym, put the 1 person from each of all other people wanting money out of the Kansas budget. First of all, let all the people know about the school admin compensation package and qualifications. Then let them know that the school admin wants more money. Lock all of the doors and let this group figure out how much more schools should get.

This is a great way of working it out- divide and conquer. I learned this well from a super.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 1 month ago

usaschools comments are on target. Selling the cow barn would do nothing for teacher compensation as the funding source is not the same. This system was designed at the state level.

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