Archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Supporters of amendment say Legislature should be sole authority on school funding

February 13, 2013


— School finance decisions by the Legislature shouldn't be open for review by the courts, according to a supporter of a proposed constitutional amendment that would make the Legislature the sole authority on funding public education.

Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, said Wednesday the amendment is needed to clarify that the Legislature — not the courts — has the power to appropriate funds for schools.

Sen. Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City, asked Abrams what recourse schools would have if the Legislature doesn't follow through on promised funding.

Abrams said determining a suitable provision for the finance of schools, "I'm going to suggest is what the Legislature says it is. They are the final arbiter."

He said if the public is unhappy with a legislator's vote on school finance, then voters can vote that legislator out of office.

The exchange occurred during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Senate Concurrent Resolution 1608, which says that the financing of educational interests of the state is exclusively a legislative power.

The measure is in response to court orders for the Legislature to increase school funding.

Last month, a three-judge panel ruled that the state has failed to provide adequate funding for schools and ordered an increase of at least $440 million. The ruling came in a lawsuit that was brought by a group of school districts because of state funding cuts to schools during the recession.

In 2005 and 2006, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the school finance system unconstitutional and threatened to shutter schools if the Legislature didn't increase funding.

The proposed constitutional amendment would need two thirds support in the House and Senate before it could be placed on the ballot during the state primaries in August 2014.

Dan Thatcher, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said since the 1970s, 45 states have gone through school finance litigation.

"Kansas is definitely not alone in this situation," he said.

He said that in cases similar to Kansas, where plaintiffs have alleged inadequate funding, the plaintiffs have won 62 percent of the time.

He said a recent study showed that the school finance lawsuits nationwide have resulted in a 6 percent increase in total spending on schools and 13 percent increase in state spending on schools.


question4u 5 years, 1 month ago

The courts determined that the state's system of funding education was not fair and equitable, hence it violated the Kansas constitution. That's what this has been about from the beginning.

But, of course, the Legislature should be able to decide whether students from poor districts with high percentages of racial minorities should receive an education comparable to that received by mostly white students in wealthy districts. If fair and equitable funding costs more, then the Kansas Legislature should be free to create a system of funding that is unfair and inequitable. Kansas is turning back the clock, so why not take 1950s Alabama as a model?

If state legislators like Virgil "murder immigrants from helicopters" Peck; Connie "I can tell an immigrant by the olive complexion" O'Brien; Bill "Opossom - the other dark meat" Otto, and Mike "Mrs. YoMama" O'Neal decide that they don't want a fair and equitable system of funding education because it costs too much, then it should be up to them. After all, it's not like they're racists or anything. And if the people of Kansas don't like what right-wing radical legislators do then they can always vote them out of office, go back in time, and give a generation of Kansas school children the fair and equitable education that they missed out on.

And why should Kansas have a system of funding education that is fair and equitable anyway if the Kansas legislature is going to spit on other American values, like freedom of speech? Go ahead and change the constitution and eliminate the balance of power that protects democracy. Kansas doesn't have to be American just because it's located in the center of the United States.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

The legislature has been altering the budget downward for no apparent reason for a few years. Certainly NOT with the approval of taxpayers!

Now we know ALEC wants to kill public education so ALEC decides to paint public education as this body of evil and incompetence which neither is true.

ALEC Private Schools

Corporate Education Reformers Plot Next Steps at Secretive Meeting

ALEC Education "Academy" Launches on Island Resort by Dustin Beilke

.What is ALEC Scoring on Its Education "Report Card?" Little is known about the agenda of the ALEC education meeting taking place at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. The meeting is not open to the public and recently even the press has been kicked out of meetings and barred from attendance. So to understand the ALEC agenda with regard to education, it is important to examine ALEC's education "scorecard."

Imagine getting a report card from your teacher and finding out that you were graded not on how well you understood the course material or scored on the tests and assignments, but rather on to what extent you agreed with your teacher's strange public policy positions. That is the best way to understand the American Legislative Exchange Council's 17th Report Card on American Education released last week.

ALEC's education bills encompass more than 20 years of effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding.... con't

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

If a transparent organization such as the courts should not intervene how in the world can that secret organization ALEC bring together state legislators to design legislation that is counter to to the will of the taxpayers?

For that matter how is it that state legislators meet in private behind closed doors WITHOUT voter approval? WHO THE HELL made that decision? Taxpayers DEMAND answers!!!!

ALEC has taken corruption up a few notches to the detriment of our children and our teachers.

I say ALEC must be declared an illegal body for designing legislation for state governments. Voters and taxpayers do not appreciate a secret government.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Let's not kid ourselves the entire Kansas delegation in congress works with ALEC as well. They should all be fired.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 1 month ago

OK, let's try again:

This suit was brought because the legislature's own research division recommended the funding level that the legislature subsequently approved, and subsequently failed to porvide. Ergo, the school districts which planned on that funding and did not get it were (and are) in need of funding to carry out their plans for educating our children.

So, the issue is deeper than "the court dictated funding levels" in our own legislators did not follow through on their own legislation.

However, this is what we have come to expect from the Kansas Neo-Republican Party. And what we can expect from them until the voters of Kansas awaken to what's happening to their state.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

It's pretty simple, really-- the only way to make the budget work after income taxes are eliminated is to gut funding for public schools. They're idiots for believing that the economy can blossom without a proper, and properly funded, system of public education, but they're smart enough for the simple math that dramatically slashing tax revenues entails.

Katara 5 years, 1 month ago

"Abrams said determining a suitable provision for the finance of schools, "I'm going to suggest is what the Legislature says it is. They are the final arbiter.""

That is not how our system works. Perhaps Sen. Abrams needs a refresher course in basic government?

George_Braziller 5 years, 1 month ago

It's not how its supposed to work, but we now live in Brownbackistan so the rules change on a daily basis.

BigfootHunter 5 years, 1 month ago

Public education is pure SOCIALISM and should be eliminated. Why should I pay for your heath care or your education???

hujiko 5 years, 1 month ago

Good point. Who needs roads, sewers, emergency personnel, the military, or even electricity for that matter?

Socialism must be stopped!

George_Braziller 5 years, 1 month ago

How about eliminating fire departments at the same time? That also falls under the category of socialism. Good luck trying to control a blaze with your garden hose if your house should ever catch fire.

BigfootHunter 5 years, 1 month ago

But, But But.... Rush and the tea party say all socialism is bad. Entitlements, Obamacare, welfare, food stamps etc. So public education is evil? right? Wait a sec. Isn't the United States Military just a huge SOCIALIST entity? Military forces exist as parasites feeding upon civilization. Ahhhh may head hurts.

If the free market can decide who lives or dies based on who has health insurance or not, why not apply the same principle to who lives or dies in fights, fires, car accidents etc. Eliminate all socialism. Provide your own security, education, food, shelter, generate your own electricity. THROW YOUR TRASH IN THE STREET.

Jonathan Becker 5 years, 1 month ago

This comment will be over the head of Sen Abrams

To paraphrase and apologize to a poet:

How dumb is this idea? Let me count the ways. I find it dumb to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I think its dumb to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I find it dumb, as men strive for Right; I find it dumb purely, as they turn from Praise. I find it dumb with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I find it so dumb with a dumbness I seemed to find dumb down With my loss it ain't, --- I find it dumb with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose, I shall vote it down now but but better after death.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 1 month ago

The bully state of the state legislature states that it goes with God and cannot be wrong or questioned. Go in arrogance to love and serve your lording over all.

Dave Trabert 5 years, 1 month ago

The headline on this article is inaccurate. As I testified yesterday in support of SCR 1608, the role of the court is to determine whether the legislature's actions are constitutional...if not, they should order the legislature to make corrections but not tell them how to do it or order an appropriation. That is the Separation of Powers Doctrine.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

It generally falls to courts, especially Supreme Courts, both at the state and federal levels, to interpret the constitution.

Thus, if KS has a provision for "suitable" funding for education in our state constitution, it falls to the SC in KS to interpret that term.

An analogy on the federal level would be the US SC interpreting the term "unreasonable" in the 4th amendment - we don't leave it to legislatures to decide whether or not a search is reasonable.

If the legislature doesn't like having the courts exercise their correct function of interpreting the constitution, they should try to amend the state constitution and remove the term "suitable" from the constitution. Then they can provide whatever level of funding they like, without trying to subvert our system.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 1 month ago

But they can not do that "after the fact", jafs.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't understand your comment.

Who can't do what after what fact?

Greg Cooper 5 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, I was being vague. I mean they can not change the Constitution to get rid of something that has already been adjudicated. Apologies for the lack of clarity. Brownback and Company drive me to distraction.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

That's interesting.

If the constitution is changed so that the state no longer has an obligation to provide "suitable funding", how can a court ruling regarding that still apply?

I'd say that they have the obligation as long as the constitution has that provision, but not after it no longer has it.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 1 month ago

Understood, but let me make this analogy:

A person is jailoed for possession of marijuana in 2010. In 2013 the state which incarcerated that person legalizes posession of the amount of grass that imprisoned him.
that person does not get a "get out of jail free card", even though the crime is now not a crime.;

In the same way, the legislature agreed, by law, to fund the schools in a certain way and did not. Absent a SCOTUS ruling vacating the Kansas Constitution's mandate, the Kansas legislature can not NOT fund the schools even if they manage to amend the constitution for future useage.

As an aside, I don't think the Constitution can be ammended to preclude the legislature not following the law in the future.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure that's a good analogy.

The obligation to provide "suitable" funding is an affirmative one, imposed by the state constitution. Not doing that is only problematic, and the court's business because of that wording.

When the KS SC ruled they weren't funding the system correctly, it was based on that requirement, and the legislature's studies.

As soon as that's gone, if they could manage to get that done, they have no affirmative obligation to fund the system to any particular level, therefore they wouldn't be in violation of their constitutional responsibilities.

I think the difference is that your marijuana example is a one time event, which carried penalties with it, and funding for education is ongoing. They're certainly in violation of the court's ruling, and have been. If penalties had been imposed for that, I wouldn't argue against those being applied now, and not forgiven after the constitution was changed.

But, I don't see how a previous constitutional obligation can carry forward after it's been changed.

chootspa 5 years, 1 month ago

Where did you get your law degree, Dave?

KSManimal 5 years, 1 month ago

Dave, you forgot to mention that the latest court ruling DID NOT tell the legislature how much money to appropriate. It simply told them they had to actually FUND the existing appropriations law.....already passed by the legislature several years ago.

Actually, you didn't "forget" to mention that. You deliberately chose not to, because it didn't fit with the narrative you are paid to put forth.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 1 month ago

Dave, the headline simply states what has been said by the legislator(s):

"Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, said Wednesday the amendment is needed to clarify that the Legislature — not the courts — has the power to appropriate funds for schools."

Nobody has any question that the legislature should have the power to legislate appropriations.

But listen closely, Dave, because the issue under fire is that the legislature did approve funding at a particular level, and did not provide that funding. I.e., they are breaking the law, and the Court must step in to force them to do what they said they were going to do in the first place!

You and you clan can continue spouting lies as long as you like, but the facts remain: the legislature failed in its lawful duty and must be brought to task. They can not change the Constitution in order to get out of their legal (and moral) duties, but must fix the problem.

The fact that the state is low on funds has to do with the legislature's lack of planning. But, as is often said, lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Get it together, uphold your promises to the kids, and go on abour the business of running the state with foresight rather than knee-jerk reactions.


Larry Sturm 5 years, 1 month ago

I think the federal government requires that states fund public education , that every child has a properly funded education thru k12.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I haven't found any such requirement so far.

States are required to educate children up until a certain level, but there's no particular funding requirement I can find.

Alexander Smith 5 years, 1 month ago

Well our current Gov and GOP controlling party needs to be removed. They fail to understand that in order to get good jobs and business to come to Kansas, we have to have a large pool of well educated workforce to pull from. If you go out and look at the states with the worst education system and compare to average pay and number of good jobs, there is a direct connection.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 1 month ago

The legislature is hoisted on its own petard. They said they wanted world-class schools back in the 1980's, created standards to meet them, then refused to find the efforts. That's why parents keep suing them. This will go on, with or without an amendment.

msezdsit 5 years, 1 month ago

"Legislature should be sole authority on school funding"

These maggots shouldn't be able to walk around the block without a guardian with a leash.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.