Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kansas House speaker urges constitutional amendment to give Legislature complete power over school funding

March 3, 2011


House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Thursday urged passage of a constitutional amendment that he said would put the Legislature in charge of how much state funding schools get.

"The thing we need to get away from is this continuous cycle of litigation,” O’Neal told the House Education Committee.

He said the adequacy of funding for schools is something the Legislature should be in charge of because it has to weigh various needs against the availability of funds.

He said the Kansas Supreme Court in its 2005 school finance decision stepped over the line by requiring that the Legislature increase school funding. The Legislature increased school funding, but has recently been cutting schools, which has prompted another lawsuit.

But Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the court simply told the Legislature to fund schools at the level that the Legislature’s own studies said was necessary.

“What happened is the schools kept saying you (the Legislature) aren’t funding us enough to do what you are telling us to do,” Ward said.

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

O’Neal’s proposed constitutional amendment would change that to say: “The Legislature shall provide for the equitable distribution of public school funds in a manner and amount as may be determined by the Legislature.”

O’Neal said House Concurrent Resolution 5010 would prevent the Kansas Supreme Court from ordering the Legislature to increase school funding.

Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, opposed the measure, saying that under the current constitutional measure, Kansas public schools continue to improve.

“This could weaken the constitutional provision that has served Kansas well,” Tallman said.

Kathy Cook, executive director of Kansas Families for Education, said, “Removing the requirement for a ‘suitable provision for finance’ effectively takes away the responsibility of the Legislature to provide adequate funding to meet the needs of students.”

O’Neal said disputes about whether school funding was equitable could still be considered by the courts under the proposal. But Education Committee Chairman Clay Aurand, R-Clay Center, wondered how that could be if the Legislature defined what equitable meant.

The committee took no immediate action on the proposal. Resolutions to change the constitution require two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate before they are placed on the ballot for voters to decide.


Brad Greenwood 6 years, 10 months ago

How about a constitutional amendment that defines "competant legislature"? Cause it's obvious we sure as heck don't have one now.

Clark Coan 6 years, 10 months ago

Uh, it's "competent" not "competant". The rednecks in the legislature would routinely slash funding for education year after year. The way most Kansans vote is already imbecilic. By dumbing them down even further, we would be a state of neanderthals.

kugrad 6 years, 10 months ago

What he meant to say is "We need to avoid this annoying system of checks and balances that prevents one branch of government from having complete control over public school funding." In other words, O'Neal is pretty downright un-Kansan if not downright un-American.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago


The new "will of the people" rhetoric has led many to forget that our system is, and is supposed to be, a tripartite one with checks and balances.

Mike Edson 6 years, 10 months ago

If the legislature is in charge, then school funding will be continually cut each year to serve their own agenda. In the public school system there is no extra money left in the 2010-2011 budget, and more has to be cut for next year. Teachers are demanding raises and the money just isn't there. Truth is, teachers will most likely get their raises for the 2011-2012 school year. It will be at the expense of the district laying off about 30 non-tenured teachers. I do not see the Kansas legislature holding up their end of the deal. I can see them say they will fund so many dollars for public education and then change their minds at the last minute changing the amount. This is not going to end well.

Clevercowgirl 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you completely. Our children's education has been placed on a slippery slope. All to save a few dollars in taxes for each Kansan. We will need to form our own lobby for parents of school age children. Seriously, we need to have our voices heard by the legislature. Parents are a large constituency. Dismantling our educational system is not an option.

volunteer 6 years, 10 months ago

QuiveraTrail: Ironic that you are criticizing someone else's spelling while making an 8th grade grammar error. The ending set of quotation marks belongs AFTER the period, not before.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

That would be a punctuation error, not a grammatical one.

deskboy04 6 years, 10 months ago

Consolidation is the answer. The legislature lacks the courage to do it.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Yes more wreckanomics is all we need from the Washington D. C. beltway governor and his pals.

Reagan/Bush put millions out of work by killing the Savings and Loan industry with help from that merger,hostile takeover and leveraged buyout frenzy. Talk about reckless financing.

Then Bush/Cheney came along and decided to follow suit only they wrecked the entire USA economy with the help of Wall Street financial institutions aka white collar thugs.

Now we have a host of republican governors following suit by trying to bust unions and put more people out of work and damage public education. IN ADDITION to cutting wages and benefits.

This repub party is not about economic growth they are about economic stupidity aka wreckanomics.

On top of all of this they want to privatize social security insurance which would add $700 billion to the national debt each year for the next 20 years. This nation cannot afford to be without Social Security Insurance. OR Medicare Insurance.

This nation cannot afford the republican party.

When it comes to keeping amercia employed have not learned that privatized industry is simply not a dependable source. The oil industry,auto industry,local developers,banking industry,WALL STREET INDUSTRY and the medical insurance industry are some of the worst managed industries in the nation. They all need bailouts.

Why turn over OUR public education system OUR Social Security Insurance and OUR Medicare Insurance over to failing managers?

Gov Brownback and associates are showing their mismangement skills daily.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 10 months ago

Woo hoo! Reagan/Bush sighting! You forgot all the links this time, merrill. Did you wear them out by copy/pasting them so many times?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

Why don't they just be honest about it, and change the word thusly.

“The Legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests as determined by the lobbyists who fund our campaigns, hire ourselves and family members, and occasionally take us to lunch, especially those funded by the Koch brothers.”

usnsnp 6 years, 10 months ago

That would be like letting the fox into the hen house.

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