Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Statehouse Live: Proposed constitutional amendment would take court out of school finance

February 9, 2011


— A House committee has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the Kansas Supreme Court from disputes over funding schools.

House Concurrent Resolution 5010 would change a key constitutional provision regarding school finance.

Currently, the Kansas Constitution says: "The Legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state."

The provision has been used by proponents of increased school funding to petition the courts to order the Legislature to increase funding and make that funding more fairly distributed.

But Gov. Sam Brownback and many in the Legislature say they want legislators to have the final say in school finance.

HCR 5010 would change the constitutional provision to read: "The Legislature shall provide the equitable distribution of public school funds in a manner and amount as may be determined by the Legislature."

Proposed constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate before they are placed before voters for consideration. If the measure is adopted, it could be on the ballot in November 2012.

As proposed, the amendment's explanatory language says:

"A vote for this amendment would require the equitable distribution of public school funds, with the manner and amount to be determined by your elected representatives and senators in the Kansas Legislature.

"A vote against this amendment would retain the current provision in the Kansas Constitution which has been interpreted by the Kansas Supreme Court as requiring the Kansas Legislature to provide funding for public schools in amounts that may be determined by the court."


BloodBot 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes! Thank you! Let's get the goofy activist Judges out of our lives! They are so out of touch with reality they can't possibly represent the will of the people. How many times recently have the people spoken, think Prop 8 in CA, and goofy activist Judges overstep their authority and overrule the people??

Synjyn Smythe 7 years, 1 month ago

But do you really want school finance to be at the whim of the legislature? School districts need to be able to plan. With the potential for change to the make-up of the legislature every couple of years, that'd be virtually impossible.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

The recent situation with school funding is that the legislature did several studies to determine the correct amount, then failed to provide it, and the KS Supreme Court ruled that they must follow their own guidelines.

Hardly an activist out of control judiciary.

And, of course, we don't have a system in which the majority are supposed to decide all decisions by voting - we have a 3 part system of legislative, executive and judicial branches.

Joseph Jarvis 7 years, 1 month ago

Judges are supposed to be active--actively protecting our individual rights. And if they "overrule the people"... Shockhorror! It's almost like a check and/or balance against majoritarian politics and the legislative branch. But what do high school government textbooks know about our system of liberal democracy?

Re. Prop. 8, the California Supreme Court upheld the Prop. 8 vote under its state constitution. Same-sex marriage proponents had to go to federal court and bring suit under the federal constitution. You don't know what you're talking about.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

So anything that 80% of voters decide should be approved, and not subject to any of the checks and balances in our system?

What if you got 80% of voters to approve of slavery?

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

Further proof that 84% of statistics are made up on the spot. The actual vote was 52.24%% yes and 47.76% no. You might try looking up actual facts sometime. It's easy.We have the internet now. You don't have to go to the library or anything. ^ a b "Statement of Vote: 2008 General Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State. 2008-12-13. Retrieved 2010-06-10.

Plurilingual 7 years, 1 month ago

The judicial system cannot do anything unless there is a complaining party that has standing to file a suit. The judges are there to settle variances in the law and to determine the ruling statute.

It doesn't matter if 99.9999% of people vote to pass a law, all it takes is one person to file a legitimate suit to get it thrown out if the law conflicts with a superior law.

ebyrdstarr 7 years, 1 month ago

The prop 8 vote wasn't anything close to 80% in favor. The final vote tally was roughly 52.2% to 47.8%.

And regardless of how large the majority, a court is still required to protect the rights of the minority.

ebyrdstarr 7 years, 1 month ago

So if the majority voted that atheists couldn't hold public office, should a court let that vote stand? Of course not because it doesn't matter how big the majority is. The majority can't pass laws that restrict the rights of the minority. Not talking about prop 8 right now, do you at least get that concept, that we are not, and have never been, a simple majority rule democracy? If not, read the Federalist Papers, especially #10, and maybe a little Alexis de Tocqueville.

irvan moore 7 years, 1 month ago

what about the activist legislature? been paying attention to what's happened in the last month? i think we in a heap of trouble.

question4u 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes! Thanks you! We don't need a balance of power between the judicial and legislative branches of government. Our legislature should make laws and interpret those laws themselves. Why should we base our state government on principles espoused by the Founding Fathers? We have our own Kansas logic.

Jimo 7 years, 1 month ago

Haha - Judge - Jury - and - Executioner.

So much for the division of power.

"The law is what I say it is!"

Maybe Kansas labor law can be changed too so that only employees can self-evaluate their performance!

Oh well, it's off to federal court to sue under the federal constitution then.

bad_dog 7 years, 1 month ago

Just think how much we could save if we got rid of the Supreme Court.

Heck, don't stop there. Let's eliminate the judicial system and let the Secretary of State's office prosecute all criminal offenses-real and imagined.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Since the KS Supreme Court merely ruled that the legislature must follow the results of their own studies on education funding, I think the current system is working fine.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

First of all consumer1, there is no such word as "intersopearse." Second, the judges in question could hardly be fairly characterized as "liberal" simply on the basis of making a decision that some conservatives disagree with. The judges on the Kansas State Supreme Court were selected by Republicans and Democrats alike in a process that sheilds them from a political lithmus test. The court has interpreted the constitution. The court found that the legislature is out of compliance. Do we really want a system whereby the legislature, when out of compliance, can simply rewrite the law to bypass the courts? The legislature is not charged with interpreting the constitution, nor the constitutionality of laws. That job falls to the courts. It is the intended checks and balances of our system of government. We hear about 'activist' courts (which really means courts doing something someone else doesn't like), but here we have an 'activist' legislature attempting to make a power grab and avoid the checks and balances.

bad_dog 7 years, 1 month ago

"...which is the lessor of the two evils?"

Beats me. Wait a minute, could it be...Satan the landlord of Hell?

getreal 7 years, 1 month ago

I never thought I would see such a widespread attack on public education in Kansas. There have always been those on the fringe who hated our schools, but folks you just elected a majority of them to serve in the statehouse.

So what this constitutional amendment says is that the state can provide whatever minimal amount they choose for education and the taxpayers have no recourse. So much for justice.

We will take your hard earned tax dollars and give them to the corporations in the form of tax breaks. We will educate the rich kids in private schools with vouchers provided again by your hard earned tax dollars and the rest of middle class families can starve to death for all we care.....Love, The Kansas Legislature

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

" Did you see the report the other day about how catholic schools perform much better on smaller budgets than public schools? "

Define better.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

For whom? At what cost to those things, and people, which and whom you don't want to consider, for ideological reasons?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Many, if not most, public schools are top-heavy with administration. That can be addressed without resorting to their dismantling.

And I'd personally be happy to see a loosening up of the public school system that would allow for more independent actors/private contractors.

But we are not currently spending "too much" on education-- in fact, we probably aren't spending enough, but we could easily be more effective and efficient.

That doesn't mean that public education could be eliminated without it resulting in an even more poorly educated population among the lower 70% or so of wealth holders.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

Since you don't live in the state and don't pay taxes here, your opinion doesn't matter. We have enough nut jobs to deal with right here, we don't need external carpetbagging.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

If you don't pay property or income tax in Kansas, you don't have a dog in this fight...regardless of how much you might be here, how much gas you buy, or how many family members you have here. You should spend your time promoting gutting YOUR local education system.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

Look, my point is that you can have an opinion, but it doesn't matter because you are not a citizen of the state. If this was a discussion about national politics, I wouldn't have said anything, but since we're talking about Kansas politics, the right thing for you to do would be to abstain. There's no need to get upset...relax.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

I didn't realize you're not a KS resident LO. That's kind of funny actually. Especially in light of your overly defensive reaction.

getreal 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't forget who takes the Catholic students with disabilities, and who takes the Catholic students who want gifted education classes....that's right your good old Kansas public schools do and we are glad to do it.

Public schools take everyone regardless of disability, or means to pay. We don't pick and choose our students and still our Kansas public schools perform as well if not better than private schools who have the same percentage of economically disadvantaged students.

So educating Kansas kids is throwing away money? Obviously you don't use any taxpayer dollars. You must float around, not using the roads, or the sidewalks, and I assume you've opted out of fire protection, and police protection as well. Taxes are the common wealth for the common good! And I would much rather pay my fair share of taxes to provide for public services than to provide a corporate tax break to some CEO.

William Weissbeck 7 years, 1 month ago

Make sure you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Don't compare Hayden to Topeka schools in general, compare it to Rural. Don't compare Kapaun to Wichita East, compare it to the Blue Valley schools.

ModerateOne 7 years, 1 month ago

Taxpayers always have recourse for legislative decisions. The recourse comes at the ballot box.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

No, and neither did you. There is no research showing that public schools are outperformed by private schools. Actual research, not newspaper articles to spur controversy, would require that both groups of schools (not to mention a control group) teach students who, if not randomly assigned, at least represented the same population. This is impossible. Public schools have to educate everybody, regardless of their behavior, cognitive ability, handicapping condition, etc. This is not true of parochial schools. You may be surprised to learn who actually DOES provide special education service and title I math and reading services to children in private schools when such children do attend these schools; it is the PUBLIC schools that do this. So, the scores of any private school that has students receiving SPED or Title I services has test scores that include students who were educated in part by public school teachers. Furthermore, many private schools have students who spent, part (in some cases most) of their years of schooling in a public school. Kids don't always just start there and stay there, they transfer all the time and for various reasons. So, you've never seen any "report" that represents actual research and compares apples to apples on this issue.

kugrad 7 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to know how Liberty_one is such an expert on the quality of our schools when he doesn't even live here.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 1 month ago

Catholic schools may well have a different performance rate, but because of self-selection, the student populations are not comparable. Catholic schools are not required to educate every child.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

The only possible rationale for this is that the governor and the Republicans in the legislature intend to gut funding for public schools. And they'll simultaneously make all funding for public schools divertable through vouchers to be used at private schools. The amount in the vouchers won't even come close to get any student into a good private school, but it'll be a nice boost for the wealthy parents who can afford to make up the difference. Kansas will then have a two-tiered system of very well-funded private schools that only the wealthy can afford, and badly underfund public schools for everyone else.

But they're too dishonest to actually admit that.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

I think you're basically correct.

Especially since it was the legislature's own studies that arrived that the amount the SC required they use - not an out of control judiciary.

They'll find a way to come up with even less funding, and take away the check and balance part of our system.

I really hope that those who voted for these guys are paying attention, and if/when the results of these policies are disastrous for KS, they hold them accountable, and vote differently.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

One bit of home schooling I encourage is never, ever, under any circumstances vote for right wingers They are good salesmen, gotta give em that. But their policies are disastrous for us.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

If we think a constitutional amendment is necessary, it should be decided by referendum. We don't need to set a precedent for legislators to be constantly messing with the constitution. If they do, before long our constitution may as well be written in crayon.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

According to the article, it would be decided on by the voters, if 2/3 of the legislators approve it.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

Yea, I understand. The point is it should be rare that the constitution is EVER amended and probably not solely on the basis of a 2/3 majority of this legislature, which far exceeds the definition of "activist" in contrast to our judicial branch.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

If voters get to decide whether to approve it, it's not decided on by the legislators - if the voters vote it down, it doesn't fly.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

right, but as I understand it, only a majority of voters need to approve it, not 2/3.

The legislature is currently almost 75% Republican. That was decided by the same voters who would be voting on a constitutional amendment.

With that in mind, I would predict that the amendment would pass should it make it on the ballot. Unless the opposition, primarily Democrats, are able to craft a sufficiently compelling argument against. Having grown up in rural KS with intimate knowledge of attitudes toward anything Democrat, I think that would be unlikely.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

If you really want see the price of education sky-rocket, privatize it and watch the price go up, teacher's salaries become slave wages, quality go to crap, and a bunch of rich guys get a lot richer. That's the reality of LibertyOne's government-bad-free-market-good mentality. If you need proof, get acquainted with our privatized child welfare system. It' disgusting! The private purveyors of child services pay young people in gum to oversee ridiculous caseloads with no benefits. Everyone pays...the case workers, the taxpayer, and worst of all, the kids who need the services.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

"Parents who are not members of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church pay tuition. Annual tuition for Kindergarten is $2,250 and $4,500 for first thru sixth grades." So how is this cheaper thing going to work again?

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

So you think 4500 is cheaper than free? You do realize public schools provide special ed services to St John's?. It's like on another thread where you maintained that private parcel delivery services provide cheaper service, while leaving out the fact that Fedex and UPS use the post office to deliver their packages in rural areas, and the private companies charge more money.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

Argument Fail:


1) You don't pay to educate Kansas children. At least not nearly as much as I do.

2) Even as a taxpayer, you certainly do NOT pay $4,500/yr strictly for education. In fact, my state taxes this year were less than a percent of my salary (and by less than 1% of my salary I mean WAY less than $4,500/yr).

Regardless, I would willingly and unabashedly contribute that amount, and more, for better public education in KS.

I challenge you to figure out exactly how much you DO pay for public education in annual taxes (in whichever state you live), and compare that with what you would pay to send your children (not that I think you have any) to attend a private school.

Good luck.

Of course, you may argue that every dime you pay in private education is worth it, considering it's superior quality, despite that you were educated, according to your bio, by public institutions.

Which begs the question, from what private institution did you receive your Libertarian education?

bevy 7 years, 1 month ago

What you may not realize is that the Catholic students parents probably pay 10% of their annual income to have the kids educated there. That's what my friend pays in Wichita for a Catholic education for her son.

windex 7 years, 1 month ago

LO, get real. Are you really comparing the long, multi-year process of providing our youngest citizens with a basic education to buying a computer? Seriously? You bring nothing but a rigid ideology to this discussion and, in spite of your high opinion of your own intellect ("boo-hoo, I was bored in school because I was so much smarter than everyone else") you have shown yourself incapable of grasping any subject which has any nuance or complexity. You just apply your one-size-fits-all dogma to every situation, and that is a dead giveaway for a mind that can't handle much. OBVIOUSLY educating different kids costs different amounts. It's just stupid to hand pick a group of the easiest, cheapest kids and crow about how you can educate them cheaply. If you want to have a real dialogue, go ahead and state what you really think, which might be this: Some kids aren't worth it. They're too expensive. They don't speak English, or they poop their pants, or they're blind or deaf or just plain weird, or their households are so stressful and chaotic and abusive that they are in a state of perpetual trauma and they have a hard time sustaining their concentration. So let's write them off. After all, why should we have to pay big bucks to educate this bunch of losers? But, LO, THEN what? Seriously: THEN what? We neglect the needy among us at our own peril.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

Argument Fail:


1) I've yet to see you respond to the fact that private education institutions seek public help in educating the disabled. Why would they do that? Lack of supply for the demand perhaps?

2) Supply/demand trends for education, computers, and cell phones might have something in common but they don't have everything in common. One of those dissimilarities is whether the constituent public has deemed it an entitlement by the state. With public education, it was deemed so long ago, by those who drafted and ratified the KS constitution.

As far as I know, commercial electronics still linger outside of the realm of entitlements.

If you read the KS constitution, it's pretty clear that "adequate" public education is written in as an entitlement, to be "adequately" provided by the state. Through our governmental system, the term "adequate" is left for the courts to decide, which they did, even after a conservative legislature solicited a non-partisan, non-Kansan firm to conduct a study to determine as such.

Tell me LO, what was so un-democratic about THAT process?

And now, since they couldn't find a firm to define "suitable" to their liking, they're moving to remove "suitable" from the verbiage of the law.

Which begs the question, what do you think is suitable, LO?

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

Argument Fail.


1) Prices of electronics go down because technology get's better. Mobile phones in the mid 90's were between $300 and $400, which is about as much as you'd pay for a new iPhone or Android without a contract.

2) Mid to high end electronics are luxuries. Most people, including those who crafted our (not your) state constitution thought of education as more than a luxury available only to those who can afford it.

Try again.

bad_dog 7 years, 1 month ago

"Kind of like ONLY the government can provide cell phones, CD players, televisions etc."

Yes, and provision of those items by the gov't. would be so essential to becoming successful in life, earning a living, etc. Great analogy, LO.

bad_dog 7 years, 1 month ago

No-you're right. Sign me up for a career in electronics utilization and consumption.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

Where is your proof? There are no empirical studies showing any major difference between public and private schools that is not funded by someone with a clear agenda. You must have had a bad experience and for that I am truly sorry. But for the masses, historically public education has done a pretty decent job of teaching basic education to a very diverse audience. You have options for your kids. That doesn't mean that the rest of us have to follow you.

deec 7 years, 1 month ago

I wonder where children in rural isolated communities would go to school if there were no public schools. I doubt a lot of for-profit schools will rush to Gove or St. Francis or Axtell. I guess they can go to school online, unless they live in an area that does not have good internet access.

gudpoynt 7 years, 1 month ago

LO - Argument Fail. Again.


1) If you think the same quality of education can be delivered in less time, it would require one or more of the following: * better instruction, which implies better training of teachers * more hours of instruction per day * better support at home from parents * supplemental programs outside of the class room Any of these measures require more resources for educators, not less.

2) The supply of traveling tutors that might rise to meet the demands of rural citizens could not respond in time. Sure, there might be a market response, but it would take time before they were able to extend their reach to everybody. Just look at how slow broadband access has taken to reach some rural communities. I have family living in a KS town of about 200 people, whose only option for "broadband" is a satellite company that has to charge about 3x as much as a cable company for an inferior service, simply because it's not profitable to install infrastructure there. It's nearly impossible to conduct business there that relies on average broadband speeds. Is there a demand? You bet. But it consists of too few to provide profitable incentive for broadband providers. Now, how do you think privatized education would respond in a similar situation? Would any private venture take a hit for a few years out of a moral obligation to educate rural children? I highly doubt it. A few might, with a sufficient surplus of capital, but most wouldn't. Certainly not any entrepreneurial endeavor operating on loans to begin with.

Which begs the question, if we were to move to a privatized education structure, what is an acceptable amount of "down time" for those who would see an immediate withdrawal of available resources? One year? Two? What happens to childrens' education during that time?

"Um.. wait it out. Private education is on the way! And it will be much better."

Good luck pitching that.

Case studies like these are prime examples of where private industry can fail the individual consumer. In many cases it doesn't. But in some cases it does. Particularly when the product provided by said private industry is one that the public deems more essential to quality of life than mere luxuries.

The fallacy is that a free market will respond to consumer demand. The truth is that a free market will only respond to consumer demand when consumer demand reaches a critical mass such as to affect revenues. Profits, after all, are the sole purpose of any for-profit enterprise, and protection thereof trumps all other consideration. A lack of profit for a for-profit enterprise equates failure. If critical mass is never met, as has been the case with the community where my family member lives (not only with broadband access, but also with public education), where does that leave them? Only with the option to move to areas with more resources and better access to them. Is that the freedom you envision Liberty_One?

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

Well said! There is also an argument to be made that the profit motive of private enterprise is innappropriate for certain social services. Healthcare use to fit in that category, but that ship sailed.

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

They should fix the description. "A vote for this amendment will gut education spending on the whims of the legislators in a manner currently seen as unconstitutional."

volunteer 7 years, 1 month ago

Justice Nuss getting caught (by reporters- bless the press!) going over spreadsheets with legislators while the school finance case was still under consideation by the Court is enough to make me skeptical of the wisdom and ethics of this state "supreme" court.

On the other hand, what is "suitable" when the state has tens of millions in its coffers is quite different (one hopes) than what is "suitable" when the state faces a 500 million dollar deficit.

I would be reluctant to amend, but also would remind the Court that it should be above reproach ethically.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Actually, I think that the definition of "suitable" should depend on how much is needed to provide the quality of education we want to provide.

Carol Bowen 7 years, 1 month ago

Reduced state revenues has a lot to to with tax cuts of the past. There was no plan for the future, only the immediate gratification of tax cuts. Last one out, turn off the lights.

deskboy04 7 years, 1 month ago

We've got a pretty good education system in Kansas. Our students do very well on their test scores. We should probably remember all of the great things that are going on in our schools!

Jeremy DeBoard 7 years, 1 month ago

Isn't that the point of amendments (to change a single issue)? Like with the federal constitution being amended to abolish slavery, or giving women the right to vote?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

"i have decided to leave the forum. goodbye. i am signing out. SVEN January 29, 2011"

As we said earlier - I tried the forum to post when appropriate. It lasted about 6 hours and then the wingnuts - Jerry Springer show crowd took over and took it up to 290+ posts. GOOD BYE It is more like the Jerry Springer show than anything rational, in part due to the moderator's policy interpretations. we ARE NOT posting again - sorry. February 8, 2011

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

TABOR - Brownback and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce will be pushing the TABOR agenda.

Neoconservatives are not republicans. Brownback is not a republican.

Neoconservatives are following the neoconservative guideline that wrecks state economics basically written by Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers:

TABOR is a mutation of the Tax and Expenditure Limits (TELs) instituted in 28 states around the country over the past quarter-century, beginning with Proposition 4 in California in 1979. TABOR is like a conventional TEL on steroids: it has been pumped up with stricter spending limits and tighter restrictions on legislative action. Whereas TELs traditionally tied state government spending to faster-growing personal income, TABOR allows government budgets to grow only as fast as the population plus the inflation rate.

Furthermore, TABOR applies the population-plus-inflation adjustment to the prior year's actual expenditures, not to allowable or budgeted expenditures. So, as the CBPP notes, "when state budgets grow slowly or fall, as in the recent fiscal crisis, actual spending or revenues are likely to be lower than the level permitted by the formula. If this lower level becomes the new base … then the level of public services is permanently ratcheted down." Colorado's TABOR, the only one in effect so far, was also designed to be hard to reverse: only a ballot measure approved by the state's voters can do so.

Most of the financial backing for TABOR initiatives has come from antitax fanatics like Grover Norquist, White House insider and intellectual author of the Bush tax cuts, or brothers Charles and David Koch of oil pipeline conglomerate Koch Industries, heirs to their father's company and fortune. As co-owners of their $40 billion corporation, the Kochs have used their staggering resources to start an ultraconservative think tank designed to pump out ideological broadsides disguised as policy studies.

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) touts TABOR and other pieces of conservative legislation as overwhelming success stories, usually with validating data from like-minded (and like-funded) organizations. "It's no accident that TABOR's major champions … share many of the same free-market philosophies and goals.

They also share many of the same funders--large corporate interests and right-wing private foundations--and in some cases, they share board members as well," concludes a 2005 report by the Bureau of National Affairs, a nonpartisan business news publisher.

Armed with these dubious studies and lots of corporate AFPF dollars, local groups stuff mailboxes full of flyers and whisper in the ears of state politicians. AFPF's director of North Carolina operations, David Neeley, "expects to spend anywhere between $200,000 and $500,000 this year alone on radio and television advertisements and direct-mail promotions."


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