Archive for Monday, January 25, 2010

Lawmaker wants to make sure schools don’t use state tax money to sue Legislature

January 25, 2010


With the threat of a school funding lawsuit hanging over them, legislators on Monday considered a nonbinding resolution that tells school districts not to use tax monies to sue the Legislature, and tells courts they don’t have the right to tell legislators how much to spend.

State Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, author of Senate Concurrent Resolution 1621, said it didn’t seem right for school districts to “sue us with our own money.”

Kelsey, who is also running for Congress, got support before the Senate Judiciary Committee from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity-Kansas.

The measure is aimed at discouraging legal action by school districts that seek to reverse recent budget cuts to public schools that have been made by the Legislature and Gov. Mark Parkinson.

Members of a coalition of more than 70 school districts have asked the Kansas Supreme Court to reopen a lawsuit filed in 1999 that alleged the state’s school finance system was unconstitutional. The lawsuit led to court orders in 2005 and 2006 that forced increases to public schools.

But in the past year, schools have been cut by about $241 million.

SCR 1621 says no tax funds shall be spent to finance litigation that challenges the constitutionality of a legislative appropriation. The resolution further states that “courts lack the constitutional authority to order the Legislature to make specific appropriations.”

State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, noted state law already prevents school districts from using state appropriations for lawsuits against the Legislature. Those funds must be taken from local tax funds.

Mark Tallman, a lobbyist with the Kansas Association of School Boards, opposed the resolution, saying if residents of a school district don’t like that the school board allocated tax funds for the lawsuit, they can try to vote the board out.

“We should not be changing the process that allows the courts to enforce what we think are key provisions of the constitution,” Tallman said.

The Judiciary Committee took no action on the measure. Chairman Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said, “We’ll work it eventually.”


newmedia 8 years, 4 months ago

Great idea but good luck trying to track the money...

SayWhat 8 years, 4 months ago

Regarding State Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, saying it didn’t seem right for school districts to “sue us with our own money.”

News flash Kelsey, it's not your money. It's the people's money. If you can't adhere to the law then we have every right to take you to court with our money.

KSManimal 8 years, 4 months ago

...but it's perfectly OK for tax dollars (legislative salaries and time) to be used to tell the courts which cases they can and can't entertain.....?

Kelsey is a genius, to be sure.

kugrad 8 years, 4 months ago

A district can't file or join a lawsuit without the permission of their Board of Education - an ELECTED body. The legislature has no more authority over these funds than the local Boards. The use of the public money is controlled by the school boards, not the legislature. The legislature doesn't like it when the courts order them to re-examine their funding levels, yet they are ready to try to control funds not under their jurisdiction.

In times like these, it is important to note that the LEGISLATURE ITSELF funded not one, but 3 studies on the cost of adequately educating a child in Kansas. This was done in 2001. The 2 follow ups were done because they didn't like the amount of the first one, but the other 2 came up with the same results. So the legislature in Topeka knows full well that they are underfunding our schools as current levels are well below recommended levels from their own studies. It is also worth noting that, during the stock boom of the 90's, the legislature lowered the state school property-tax from 35 mils to 20 mils. Do the math people - we cut taxes too far! We can't just sit by and let a generation of Kansas kids pay the cost of an underfunded education.

kansasmutt 8 years, 4 months ago

"Kansas uses 65% of all tax revenue collected to finance schools." This is a quote from our governor in the state of the state speech. When revenue is down, funding will be down, simple math. Schools need to figure ways to cut cost’s and raise money themselves. Sell off old crap not used. have bake sales like the old days, refurbish equipment and not buy new, charge for after school programs , raise fees to watch sports events and so on. Learn to live within your means !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

finance 8 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, yeah. Like cupcakes pays for the real world today. 65% is a bargain. I'd hate to see the world a bunch of unfettered illiterate yokels would create if turned loose for their own personal version of a holocaust. We can already see a glimpse of it in the insane rhetoric bantered about in these low-brow sites. But whatever, go figure. Actually, an amusing idea. "Figuring" from a bunch of people who can't spell wouldn't produce very much confidence in their mathematical skills either.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 4 months ago

Here is what the Legislaturee should do - they should repeal the sales tax exemption for schools. Then give then that money and let them know that they gave the schools more money. The school are only complaining about not getting enough money, not how THEY spend it.

Problem solved. I doubt if you would hear anyone from the schools complain becuase they know it is a no win situtaion for them.

If the Supreme Court states that the legislature must fund schools more, here is what you do-

  1. Cut their budget and tell them to raise their fees.

finance 8 years, 4 months ago

That makes no sense. If schools' sales tax exemption is repealed, then schools spend more of their declining budgets by having to pay sales tax. Then, if the sales tax is refunded, it's a zero net gain and zero net loss. The premise of the argument made by commuter is simply wrong and possibly mean-spirited--giving with one hand and taking away for no net difference has to have some motive other than the simple notion that there is somehow more money involved--at the end of the day, the amount of money is unchanged.

So yes, I'm disputing the notion that no one will complain--I'm complaining because it is a no-win situation, but for a totally different set of reasons than commuter predicts. And as far as raising fees to offset loss of equalization funds through a state aid formula? Bizarre if commuter actually understood the point of an equalization formula--or perhaps s/he does but just chooses to reveal his/her indifference to the notion of social responsibility toward children and taxpayers.

Stephen Roberts 8 years, 4 months ago

Finance all I am saying is that school districts only complain about how much funding they get - not what THEY choose to spend it on. There is no incentive for them to come under budget.

Have you ever heard a school district say they get enough money. I haven't and I never will because why?? They want more and more.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 4 months ago

"Have you ever heard a school district [---------] say they get enough money. I haven't and I never will because why?? They want more and more." === Take out 'school district;' and fill in the blank with a word of your choice and ask the same question. Suggestions: Military commander; businessman; farmer; dancer; pianist, etc. Schools are the only institution that people will say, "money doesn't matter." Incidentally, it does matter. If it didn't the few 'rich' schools around the country would be desperately trying to give some or most of their money away to poorer districts who can use it. Part of the 'problem' is Kansas spends less than many of similar states and gets better academic results. At the same time, demands for increasing performance are steady and persistent.

kansasmutt 8 years, 4 months ago

.So i take it since Kansas went from the 35% rate of funding to the 65% rate for schools , everyone who was schooled in those schools is stupid and illiterate ? That will cover about 70% of us who post on here, even our governor. Money does not make someone smarter, it is the teaching staff and discipline that create a smarter child. Many brilliant minds were formed in schools of one room and one teacher teaching 60 kids of all ages. I am not saying go back to that, but the schools of today are huge energy eating, money eating machines. New equipment every year to mow the new stadium grass, the list can go on for ever. The time is here to school smart and budget smart. Kids are our future, but is the future going to be here ? Do we want kids that work 60 hrs a week, just to pay taxes ? We are going the wrong way with things and the bubble may burst soon.

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