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Archive for Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Nuss Fuss’ timeline

May 3, 2006, 9:32 a.m. Updated May 4, 2006, 10:19 a.m.

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Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court are, back row from left, Robert Gernon, Lawton Nuss, Marla Luckert and Carol Beier, and front row, from left, Donald Allegrucci, Chief Justice Kay McFarland and Robert Davis.

Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court are, back row from left, Robert Gernon, Lawton Nuss, Marla Luckert and Carol Beier, and front row, from left, Donald Allegrucci, Chief Justice Kay McFarland and Robert Davis.

Jan. 9: The Legislature convenes its 2006 session, facing a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to increase spending on public schools.

Feb. 2: Sen. Jim Barnett, of Emporia, seeking the Republican nomination for governor, outlines a four-year plan to phase in a $495 million increase in aid to schools.

Feb. 23: After weeks of talks between legislative leaders and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, House leaders unveil a three-year, $500 million plan.

March 1: Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss has lunch at Carlos O'Kelly's, a Mexican restaurant in Topeka, with Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, a longtime friend, and Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton. According to them, Nuss brought a spreadsheet and asked briefly about numbers for various school finance alternatives. Morris later says Nuss said a plan in keeping with past cost studies and a bipartisan proposal would be helpful.

Sen. Nick Jordan, R-Shawnee, right, congratulates Sen. Steve
Morris, R-Hugoton, for his election as Senate president. Jordan was
the only other nominee who ran for that position Monday. Also
pictured at the Statehouse in Topeka is Pete Brungardt, R-Salina,
center.

Sen. Nick Jordan, R-Shawnee, right, congratulates Sen. Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, for his election as Senate president. Jordan was the only other nominee who ran for that position Monday. Also pictured at the Statehouse in Topeka is Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, center.

March 2: Senate leaders unveil a three-year, $660 million school funding plan.

March 17: Sebelius meets with Morris, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, and her chief of staff, Troy Findley, in her Statehouse office.

March 24: A coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans engineers passage of a three-year, $633 million package.

March 28: Sebelius has a breakfast meeting at Cedar Crest with Morris, Hensley and Findley. She later said Morris mentioned having contact with the court, but nothing specific, while Hensley recalls that sometime in March, Morris told him and Sebelius that he had spoken with a Supreme Court justice, who told Morris a multiyear plan would be "a good thing."

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, right, talks with Senate Minority Leader
Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, at the Statehouse. Sebelius said Monday
she was encouraged by January's preliminary tax collection figures,
which showed the state falling short of expectations by about $6
million. Hensley added: "It's not good, but it's not as bad as we
expected."

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, right, talks with Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, at the Statehouse. Sebelius said Monday she was encouraged by January's preliminary tax collection figures, which showed the state falling short of expectations by about $6 million. Hensley added: "It's not good, but it's not as bad as we expected."

March 30: The Senate rejects three school finance proposals, including Barnett's plan. Morris votes against Barnett's plan.

March 31: Pushed in a private meeting by Barnett to justify voting against Barnett's plan, Morris tells Barnett he had contact with the court. His and Barnett's accounts differ. Barnett then brings his running mate, Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, and at least four other senators into Morris' office, to have him repeat the story.

April 2: Barnett writes a letter complaining about the conversation to the U.S. Attorney's Office. It later advises him to contact the Kansas Attorney General's Office, which begins an inquiry.


Republican candidates for governor gathered for a debate at the Dole Institute of Politics sponsored by Kansas University's College Republicans. Debating Tuesday, from left, are Sen. Jim Barnett, Emporia, Ken Canfield, Overland Park, and Robin Jennison, Healy.

Republican candidates for governor gathered for a debate at the Dole Institute of Politics sponsored by Kansas University's College Republicans. Debating Tuesday, from left, are Sen. Jim Barnett, Emporia, Ken Canfield, Overland Park, and Robin Jennison, Healy.

April 20: A reporter asks court spokesman Ron Keefover whether there has been any contact between the court and legislators over school finance. Keefover's subsequent question to the court prompts Nuss to acknowledge his March 1 conversation and remove himself from the school finance lawsuit. The court announces Nuss' decision publicly.

April 24: Supreme Court Chief Justice Kay McFarland asks the state Commission on Judicial Qualifications to investigate Nuss.

April 26: Morris releases a one-page memo on the Nuss case during a caucus of GOP senators. Wagle immediately challenges his version of events.

April 27: The Senate approves a three-year, $466 million school finance plan.

April 28: Mays announces that he plans to appoint a seven-member committee to review the Nuss case.

April 29: The House Select Committee on School Finance endorses a three-year, $401 million education funding plan. Hensley acknowledges knowing about Morris' contact with the Supreme Court.

May 1: Morris acknowledges telling Sebelius about his contact with the court but can't recall the details. House Speaker Doug Mays names Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, to lead a legislative investigation into the Nuss matter.

May 2: Kansas House tentatively approves a three-year, $533 million school finance plan.

May 3: House rejects three-year, $533 million school finance plan on 69-55 vote. Sens. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, and Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe, sent a letter demanding access to records from the governor's office to see if Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had any contact with Justice Lawton Nuss about school finance issues.

May 3: Sens. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, and Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe, sent a letter demanding access to records from the governor's office to see if Gov. Kathleen Sebelius had any contact with Justice Lawton Nuss about school finance issues.House rejects three-year, $532.7 million school finance plan on 69-55 vote. Negotiations begin between House and Senate on competing funding plans.

May 4: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius issues statement denying having any inside information from the Kansas Supreme Court on the school finance lawsuit.

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