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Archive for Friday, January 11, 2013

Court: Kansas Legislature’s level of funding for schools unconstitutional

January 11, 2013, 2:56 p.m. Updated January 11, 2013, 7:58 p.m.

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The Kansas Legislature has violated its constitutional duty to provide suitable funding for public schools, a three-judge panel ruled Friday. Gov. Sam Brownback warned that the decision could lead to "drastically" higher property taxes for Kansans.

In a 326-page opinion, the judges, ruling in the case of Gannon vs. Kansas, effectively ordered the Legislature to fund public schools at $4,492 per pupil, about $600 higher per pupil than present funding levels.

Dale Dennis, deputy education commissioner in charge of finance and administration, said complying with that part of the court's ruling would cost $442 million per year.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Friday the state will appeal the decision.

"Today’s ruling has enormous consequences for the state of Kansas," Schmidt said.

In a statement, Gov. Brownback called the decision "disappointing" and said: "Through today’s ruling, the courts are drastically increasing the property tax burden on every Kansan. The Kansas Legislature, not the courts, has the power of the purse and has, in fact, increased total state funding for schools every year during my administration. The legislative process is the appropriate venue for debating and resolving issues of taxation and spending."

Article 6, Section 6 of the Kansas Constitution requires the Legislature to make "suitable provision for the finance" of public education. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the state must base education funding on actual costs of providing required educational services, but the Legislature has steadily cut school funding over the past few years. Today's ruling echoes the Supreme Court decision.

John Robb, lead attorney for Kansans for Fair Funding, the coalition of school districts that filed the lawsuit in 2010, hailed the decision as a victory for children.

"I feel really good for the kids in Kansas," Robb said. "For the third time in 20 years, their rights have been vindicated. It takes a long time, but it feels good that I'm happy for them that somebody finally recognizes that their constitutional rights do mean something."

The court also said lawmakers have violated the constitution by refusing to fund "equalization" aid for capital outlay budgets — dollars that school districts spend on big-ticket purchases such as building repairs, equipment purchases and, in some cases, new construction. That's money the state spends to subsidize capital outlay budgets of low-wealth districts so they don't have to levy much higher property tax levies to raise the same amount of money as wealthier districts.

As a result, the court declared the entire statute dealing with capital outlay budgets "unconstitutional and of no force and effect from and after July 1, 2013," unless the legislature acts to fully fund the equalization aid.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said he was "encouraged" by the panel's decision, and said its opinion pointed out that "Gov. Brownback's tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations directly conflict with our constitutional duty to fund public schools." Last May, Brownback signed into law cuts in the state income tax rate and elimination of income taxes paid by nearly 200,000 business owners.

Davis said he hoped Brownback will focus on efforts to ensure that Kansas children receive a quality education and "not on punitive measures aimed at our courts." Brownback supports measures that would give him more say in picking appellate judges.

Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, said the panel's ruling shows that "unelected courts" have disregarded the separation of powers between the three branches of government.

House Republican leaders said the judges overstepped their authority. "The House is committed to ensuring a quality education for all Kansas students and will work tirelessly to achieve that goal," House Speaker-elect Ray Merrick of Stilwell said. "However, the Legislature, not the court system, has the duty of balancing the critical funding needs of all Kansans when appropriating tax dollars."

Friday's opinion, written by Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis, reflects guidelines handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2005 when it ruled in the case Montoy vs. Kansas that the Legislature has a constitutional duty to base funding on the actual cost of providing all the educational services required by law.

Although the current funding law calls for base funding of schools at that level, Kansas lawmakers have not appropriated enough money to fund schools since the economic downturn began in 2008. Instead, lawmakers have appropriated smaller amounts of money in the state budget, resulting in pro-rated funding for schools.

Currently, schools are receiving $3,838 per pupil — about 16 percent below the statutory requirement.

"We believe that here in the case before us, the facts advanced, without any question whatsoever ... demonstrate that the Kansas legislature, and, in some instances, perhaps, that of Kansas governors, in actions taken since the Montoy case concluded, have failed to follow the established judicial precedent of the Montoy case," Theis wrote.

Later in the opinion, he said, "Plaintiffs have established beyond any question that the state's K-12 educational system now stands as unconstitutionally underfunded."

After the Montoy case, Kansas lawmakers passed a multiyear school funding bill that phased in a series of funding increases through Fiscal Year 2009 and beyond. Under that law, base funding for education was supposed to have been $4,400 in the 2008-09 school year, and to $4,492 in 2009-10 and each year beyond that.

But state revenues began to plummet in the fall of 2008 following the collapse of the financial industry. A series of "allotment" cuts were ordered, first by Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson, and then by Brownback, a Republican. The legislature followed suit with a series of additional cuts, lowering the base aid formula to $3,870 in the 2011-12 school year.

Last year, lawmakers added back $58 per pupil from the previous cuts, raising this year's funding to $3,838.

Also last year, lawmakers enacted a historic multibillion-dollar package of income tax cuts that are expected to take a big bite out of future state revenues. Supporters of the cuts are hopeful they will stimulate economic growth, but critics have said they will produce huge budget deficits in future years, resulting in further cuts to education funding.

Plaintiffs in the Gannon case argued those cuts proved the state could have afforded to fully fund education, but chose tax cuts as a higher priority.

In today's opinion, the court agreed with that argument, although it took no judicial action to overturn the tax cuts.

"It seems completely illogical that the state can argue that a reduction in education funding was necessitated by the downturn in the economy and the state's diminishing resources and at the same time cut taxes further, thereby reducing the sources of revenue on the basis of a hope that doing so will create a boost to the state's economy at some point in the future," the court wrote.

Scott Rothschild contributed to this story from Topeka.

Comments

George Lippencott 1 year, 11 months ago

Are we arguing that the ;legislature must fund schools to meet kansas levied requirements or federal levied requirements???

veggiegirl 1 year, 11 months ago

The word "federal" appears nowhere in this article. Why are you asking if the requirements could be federal?

KSManimal 1 year, 11 months ago

Many requirements ARE federal (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, No Child Left Behind Act, etc.).

The federal government loves to mandate things like "no child left behind", and then subsequently leave the money behind. Shocking, isn't it?

Nonetheless, states must still comply with federal law; and if the feds won't pay for it the states have to.

The states whine about it, of course, but they are likewise quick to legislate requirements onto local school districts; then leave the money behind, forcing the local boards to pick up the slack with local taxes.

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

Not quite as simple as that, even. Still bound by many of the special education mandates, only without the matching funding. Not that the matching funding on that one has ever been as high as originally promised, but that's another story.

jafs 1 year, 11 months ago

This has nothing to do with the feds though.

Kansas is violating it's own state constitution.

maudeandcecil 1 year, 11 months ago

Moderate- They're Kansas levied requirements.

George Lippencott 1 year, 11 months ago

Good Question. If we levy requirements we should pay for them or reduce them. If the feds levy requirements and fail to fund them I am not sure Kansas and local taxpayers can be held liable. Such a determination (federal requirements) opens up all kinds of mischief.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

You get what you pay for. Fund the schools now, or suffer the consequences later.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

Well, the Brownback-Koch way to deal with legalities is to change them by executive fiat. Look for the State to change educational requirements to fit with their pre-conceived notion of "education". With the new State Board of Education make-up as it is, that change can be made immediately, to the liking of the guy who thinks he is in charge of the purse-strings.

On another note, it is no coincidence that, even though the income outlook for Kansas, as of today's reports, seems brighter, look for a downturn in optimism as the "new" per-student expenditures come into play.

This is going to be a bumpy ride, folks. It will be interesting to see how the new right solves the problem of being told they have to comply with the laws they wrote and enacted. The maneuvering that is going to take place will be really eye-opening.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

I know, Gandalf, and that was my point. My thinking is that Sam and the Gang have little concern for the legalities of Kansa law or constitutionality.

No, I don't seriously believe a constitutional change is in the cards, but neither do I believe that the legislature, in its current make-up, will pay any attention to the things Sam tells them to ignore.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

Perhaps I should have been more straightforward. However, living in Kansas has taught me that very little conversation from the Statehouse is in any way straightforward, and I have been caught up in the "say what means something else" mode. LOL.

On another note, I have always enjoyed your comments. There are quite few here who I listen to closely, and you are one. Thanks.

Tracy Rogers 1 year, 11 months ago

What's the over/under for Dave Trabert, a.k.a. Koch's talking puppet, to show up here and tell us how this is wrong? One hour? Two hours?

fiddleback 1 year, 11 months ago

I had fun with that guy on here once. Ridiculing his thinly veiled agenda, that is.

alternate headline:

The Great Libertarian Laboratory Suffers Legal Setback; Previously Ignored Entities Known as "Kansans" Rejoice at Thought of School Funding They'll Still Never See...

fiddleback 1 year, 11 months ago

Man, that was a long wait for Dave -- almost 18 hours. And sure, I've heard of people waiting that long for "Dave," but I think they were rewarded with more than a guy whining about math formulas ...

ohjayhawk 1 year, 11 months ago

Good luck with this. I hope Kansas can get it figured out faster than Ohio has. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in the 1997 case DeRolph v. State that the way Ohio funds its schools to be unconstitutional. We are now in the year 2013, and the state legislature still has yet to come up with a way to bring it into compliance!

Gary Denning 1 year, 11 months ago

This is really no different than Kansas. In Montoy, decided 6-7 years ago, the Kansas Supreme Court told the State how to fund education and the legislature has ignored it.

LogicMan 1 year, 11 months ago

There's no money, and our recent national C+ rating in funding says things in our public schools are OK (though not great).

Maybe it is time to repeal that recent Kansas constitutional amendment. It works in good times, but not in bad.

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

What recent amendment are you referring to? The duty to fund public education has always been in the Kansas constitution.

There would be money if the state legislature returned tax levels to responsible levels to meet the constitutionally mandated core functions of the Kansas government.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm curious to know where you got the "C+" ranking for Kansas schools. Can you please cite your source?

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

Where's a link to the opinion itself?

farmdog1 1 year, 11 months ago

school districts are just like athletic departments-there is never enough money. most schools focus on sports while some of the students still can not read ,write,or perform basic math.Similar problem in Kansas City, Missouri district probably 15 to 20 years ago-judge ordered a huge increase in funding for schools - still resulted in a poor school system!

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

That is completely, absolutely untrue. Sports programs are asn integral part of "education" but no school focuses on sports. At least add something constructive to the discussion.

The problems with the Kansas City, MISSOURI, system are mainly with the administrative control, or lack therof, and have little to do with anything other than the administrations having little business sense and not focusing on student welfare and EDUCATION. Aside from the fact that you are talking about a system in another state, your anecdotal example is a straw man argument and has no bearing on the situation in Kansas, where the issue is the legislature making laws that they did not follow.

Katara 1 year, 11 months ago

"But state revenues began to plummet in the fall of 2008 following the collapse of the financial industry. A series of "allotment" cuts were ordered, first by Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson, and then by Brownback, a Republican. The legislature followed suit with a series of additional cuts, lowering the base aid formula to $3,870 in the 2011-12 school year."

Orwell 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope you're not suggesting Mark Parkinson somehow forced the overwhelming Republican majorities in both houses to cut education funding against their will.

And I hope you're not suggesting that Brownback's faith-based economics bears no responsibility for the underfunding since he took over.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

There must be money somewhere....

Last year, Kansas used workers' withholding taxes to bribe AMC Entertainment with a $47 million payment to move its headquarters from downtown Kansas City, Missouri, to a KC suburb on the Kansas side, just 10 miles away. What a ripoff! (((AMC Entertainment has since been sold to Dalian Wanda Group of China. )))

When this tax deal was cut AMC and Cordish Co. of Baltimore were partners. As of 5/25/12 this partnership is history.

As with many buyouts/mergers people lose jobs sooner of later due to the expense of purchase. Is all of the above legal as far as the $47 million tax dollar give away is concerned?

Where is the $47 million tax dollars?

Jean Robart 1 year, 11 months ago

what has this to do with school funding?

fiddleback 1 year, 11 months ago

Uh, because that's money the state would otherwise have to spend.

Here's a primer if you don't understand the overall strategy: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/us/how-local-taxpayers-bankroll-corporations.html

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

The court should rule to fund public schools at $4,492 per-pupil no matter what. No matter if an appeal is filed or not.

Don't take from the children while political nonsense is front and center.

Probably the books should experience an audit. Simple because some services have been cut and thousands of employees have been terminated is no indication that those tax dollars are not still around as in stashed or invested.

KS 1 year, 11 months ago

I think the Legislature should tell the Courts to take a hike. The schools have plenty of money. Just look at the new buldings and how many upper level jobs there are. Then the schools complain that they don't have the money to pay the teachers. Give me a break. The only folks making money off this deal are the lawyers for the plantiffs. What are the courts going to do, fine the Legislature? Maybe the Legislature will just defund the courts. This whole argument has been going on for years. Thank the attorney's for this one. You can throw all the money in the world into education and you will still not get a better product unless you have parental and family involvement. Can lead the horse, but.........

Shelley Bock 1 year, 11 months ago

Sure....

And then educators such as Chris Bay would remain educators and not leave for higher paying jobs elsewhere if educators received higher salaries. Yes, parents do make an impact, but a well funded educational system will be more effective in teaching.

KS 1 year, 11 months ago

If you are getting into education for the money, you have chosen the wrong profession.

jafs 1 year, 11 months ago

Of course - we wouldn't want to actually compensate teachers well, since it's not a very important function they fulfill in our society.

Now, athletes and movie stars, that's a different story.

pittstatebb 1 year, 11 months ago

What the court would do . . . close the schools. That is exactly what they have the constitutional authority to do.

Not every school district has plenty of money, or new buildings or upper level jobs. In fact most districts are small, rural districts. Most districts are not Lawrence or Blue Valley or Maize. Most districts look more like Chetopa or Washington or Scott City.

The problem we have with our funding system is that, after the Montoy decision, our land rich school districts (Prairie View, Holcomb, Burlington) were given money they really didn't need. Instead of rewriting the funding laws to give more money to the schools that needed it the most (land poor, high density poverty, etc) the legislature gave everyone more money.

KS 1 year, 11 months ago

You may think the Court has the constitutional authority to close the schools and that may be correct, but I doubt seriously that would happen. Let the rich districts share some of their dollars with the poorer ones. Is not that socialist way of doing things these days.

Gary Denning 1 year, 11 months ago

Thank you for your excellent recitation about how school finance works! Of course, schools can't pay teachers with capital outlay or bond issue money, so the fact that they have nice buildings is irrelevant to their ability to provide teachers and other supports for children.

And please call your 6th grade teacher and apologize for not listening when he or she explained the proper use of apostrophes.

KS 1 year, 11 months ago

Just noticed. Thanks, you are correct on the later.

Patricia Davis 1 year, 11 months ago

Yes to all you said, and please remove the "!'" in formal writing. Your apology is accepted.

Lane Signal 1 year, 11 months ago

You're really going to argue that level of funding makes no difference is quality of education? Really? This is the most hypocritical argument that conservatives make about education. Conservatives argue that tax cuts will let businesses and the wealthy keep more money with which they can stimulate the economy, so they argue that good things can be done with money, then they turn around and say the amount of money we spend on schools is not important. Make up your mind, does more money create results or not? I know the response from the right is that the wealthy and businesses will spend the money in good ways that will help the economy and schools will just squander the money, but when you think about it that way, it's pretty ridiculous to think the Kock brothers and the other super rich are actually going to do more good with that money that schools would. Think about it. Can you really defend that position? Really?

KS 1 year, 11 months ago

Yes I am! Take at look at the product coming out of the public schools today and compare it with what the private schools, Catholic, etc. are producing. A much better product with a whole lot less money on the private side. More parentl involvement too. I am not saying that parents are not involved in their kids education in the public schools, but there are more that are not. The public schools are no different than any other government entity. They waste a ton of money.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

Maybe this should tell you and those like you something.

texburgh 1 year, 11 months ago

Of course private schools do better. They screen applicants and take only those that will do well, they usually don't take special needs students (and when they do, law requires the public schools to provide those students with services), behavior problems are kicked out and there is no due process requirement, parents can and are forced to provide additional support, and so on. Most do only marginally better than public schools and when compared to schools with similar socio-economic conditions, they do no better and often worse. The ones that consistently do better than public schools are actually far more costly per student than public schools - take Pembroke Academy.

PublicEducationMatters 1 year, 11 months ago

In my experience, private schools do a very good job. I've had kids in both. The public school education was MUCH, MUCH better. I experienced private school teachers that couldn't spell (or apparently operate a spell check program), the curriculum (esp. math and science was dumbed down), etc. I would also note that they do not take special needs kids or non-English speakers. Or...notably...kids who cannot pay. And, how is it you think they do more on less. Catholic high school in Johnson County is roughly $9,000 a year...the public school formula is between $4,000 and 5,000.

PublicEducationMatters 1 year, 11 months ago

KS, There are several problems with your argument. First, school operating budget money and capital outlay budget money comes from different places and is, by law, spent differently. Thus, a district can have brand new buildings but not have a sufficient operating budget for curriculum aids, teachers, aids, etc. Thus, just looking at the buildings is the wrong approach--you are judging the apples by the bananas.

Second, in the school district I am most familiar with, they have cut down heavily on the administrative jobs. Those were the first things to go, WAY before the missing dollars starting having an impact in the classrooms.

Third, as an attorney, I appreciate your kind thanks. In cases like this (not that I was involved in this one), we work hard to do what we are hired to do. Attorneys do not act without clients. Maybe you feel clever bashing the lawyers. Everyone has fun joking about the lawyers, until you need one.

Finally, what are the Courts going to do? Well, they are likely to do what they did when the Legislature thumbed their noses at the last Kansas school funding court order in 2004. After adequate warnings and sufficient time to find the funding, the Court ordered that all Kansas schools be shut down until there was proper funding. The Legislature then mysteriously found the money. Montoy v. State, No. 99-C-1738, 2004 WL 1094555, at *15 (Kan. Dist. Ct. May 11, 2004).

Bruce Bertsch 1 year, 11 months ago

Many of the comments clearly show that the average reader of the article has not a whit of knowledge of the Kansas Constitution. The courts have already ruled once before, but our legislators thought it more important to try a state version of "Supply Side" by cutting taxes than by funding education. Now that the privileged pay no taxes, guess who will get to make up the difference...the working poor and middle class.

PublicEducationMatters 1 year, 11 months ago

They can, and SHOULD, repeal that idiotic tax cut. And I say that as one who will benefit from it. (By the way, the tax cut was for business owners who are not all "privileged" ... although I understand that many are.)

Larry Sturm 1 year, 11 months ago

Cutting taxes for the rich never ever helped the economy.

jafs 1 year, 11 months ago

Go start a successful business without any employees or customers.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 1 year, 11 months ago

If you get a serious case of nut, you can have it surgically removed. Still, the chances of it returning are supercalifragilisticexpialidociously astronomical.

Remember people, nuts are extremely contagious. If you come in contact with a nut, it will glue itself to your psyche, leaving a sticky residue. Cough it into your sleeve.

Don't be a nutcase. Do be a "Do Bee".

weeslicket 1 year, 11 months ago

given the legislative branch's response to the previous decision (the judicial branch is not co-equal; ignore the court). and given that brownback is now governor. are we not headed for a constitutional confrontation between the maybe co-equal branches of state governance? is the supreme court able to enforce anything if the governor and/or the legislature respond with a "no"?

Eride 1 year, 11 months ago

Now imagine if Brownback is able to push through a change to the methodology of appointing appellate judges in Kansas.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on, all of us should be very concerned when one ideology controls the entire government. The entire point of our governmental system is to prevent the kind of abuse that can arise from this kind of scenario. The judiciary is supposed to be neutral, we will all suffer if we allow it to become intentionally politicized like the other two branches of the government.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

As I prepare to send in my additional income tax payment, I have a real problem with how it is spent. In my line of work I am around those every day that are abusing the system and in many cases stealing from the tax payer. These people tend to have nicer things than the working poor I know. Yes, it does anger me and it should anger you also.

The system is stacked against those of us who actually pay income taxes. On one hand many of us are blessed that we can pay income taxes, but those of us who understand and see how things like unemployment actually works, there is no wonder many go on the medicine.

Just a couple of weeks ago the income tax holiday expired on working people. This cost them the additional 2% in income withholdings on their paychecks. Did those on the public teat take a pay cut also? Have we ever seen those on the public teat take a pay cut....or do we only see them recieving COLA raises? The uninformend voter or worker really needs to open their eyes and educate themselves on just how much of a ride the politicians are taking them on, how votes, like the upcomming vote on the school bond are timed so as to give them the best time to pass. How things like the wonderful empT bus system are presented to the public while all the time the $4 million maintenance facility, overtly was in the works as a follow on.

Full accounting is necessary. Brownback is doing everything he can to get this State back into a position of playing from in front. Did any of you see the commercials running in Missouri begging the businesses not to move to Kansas for tax reasons. The Problems go very deep. If we managed our personal check books or life like our elected leaders and the uninformed voters do, we too would be broke.

KSManimal 1 year, 11 months ago

It isn't one "ideology" that controls the entire government - it's the constitution that controls the entire government.

The judiciary is doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing in this instance. Specifically, they are ruling on the constitutionality of legislation. It's called checks and balances. Without it, the legislative and executive branches could do whatever they pleased, constitution be damned.

Orwell 1 year, 11 months ago

Why do you think Brownback and his allies are trying to undermine the competence and independence of the Kansas judiciary? The central theme of his administration is "All power to the correct people." We saw the same approach with Bush II's "unitary executive" theory, and it's all too clear how that led to rampant abuse.

jafs 1 year, 11 months ago

Very possibly.

I think they call that a "constitutional crisis", and I don't know what happens next.

PublicEducationMatters 1 year, 11 months ago

See my comment above to Ks. The last time the Legislature thumbed its nose at the Courts over school funding the Court warned the Legislature, made suggestions, offered extensions of time to find a solution, etc., finally the Courts ordered all schools in the State of Kansas closed. BOOM. The Legislature was called back into session and quickly found the money.

gphawk89 1 year, 11 months ago

From the headline: "$442 million in base state aid per pupil". Well, that ought to be enough...

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

Your premise that this is "extra money" is unfounded.

Rather than "extra money," it's the amount of money necessary to get the level back to what was legally mandated before.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

L-D, you see nothing but the end of your nose. And a very uneducated, bigoted, ignorant nose it is.

Do you ever research any topic before you knee-jerk against it? Or is it enough for you that your gatekeepers, Sam and the Kochs, tell you what to believe and how to react?

I don't believe any person posting here will tell you he/she knows all about any subject, but i t is evident that some here (you included) know nothing but the talking points approved by the truly right-wing revisionists.

Try a little intelligent thinking pre-post. It might surprise you that there are points of view, and truth, not seen by you in the past.

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

Reality says. Read the article above and you'll be clearly presented with the facts.

weeslicket 1 year, 11 months ago

from LausEo (the d'oh! is silent): What does the parents get for the money?

actually. this is pretty much what we get.

whatsupjimdine 1 year, 11 months ago

I am not sure if this analogy will work or not.

Imagine yourself waiting inline behind 28 people at a grocery store checkout. Would that be frustrating? Would you demand more immediate service, asking the store to think about hiring another checker? Would you leave and go to another store?

Now, imagine 28 students waiting with hands up for individual attention from a single teacher. Would this be frustrating for a student? Would it decrease the learning potential of those students within that classroom? Presentation is only half the battle when working with such a dynamic goup of customers.

I would argue that decreasing class sizes by adding more teachers would be a good thing.

Patricia Davis 1 year, 11 months ago

I'd say off the top of my head Laus Deo subject-verb agreement: "What does the parents get for the money?" You flunk!

Bob_Keeshan 1 year, 11 months ago

Restore income taxes to where they were last year, problem solved.

fiddleback 1 year, 11 months ago

Reminds me of why cynical "there's no money" bull**** like Trabert's is a perfect example of the main starve-the-beast manipulation. First you slash taxes, then claim there's no money to fund something adequately (and in this case constitutionally) without further funding cuts elsewhere. Sound familiar? It's been the GOP strategy for the last 10 years with the "temporary" Bush tax cuts. After a decade of structural underfunding of the government and digging a massive hole, they suddenly became deficit hawks and screamed for deep cuts to bedrock safety net programs. Obviously this diabolical ruse continues to work splendidly.

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

Again, back to the text of the article for the answer to your question. This is from the court's opinion, as quoted in the article, and focussing specifically on tax cuts in a recession further reducing the public coffers and thus leading to the legislature unconstitutionally lowering funding for education:

""It seems completely illogical that the state can argue that a reduction in education funding was necessitated by the downturn in the economy and the state's diminishing resources and at the same time cut taxes further, thereby reducing the sources of revenue on the basis of a hope that doing so will create a boost to the state's economy at some point in the future," the court wrote."

Daniel Dicks 1 year, 11 months ago

Blitz-Blitz- Its a Ballroom Blitz! This is going to be interesting.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

Lets cut entitltement spending by 25% and apply it to this mandate. Win win. You see, those who put very little or nothing into the system and leech off the taxpayer, now can feel good about themselves as they are doing something to help.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 11 months ago

Actually, Bozo, it's you who is going there again with that final solution stuff. By comparing a proposal to cut entitlement spending by 25% with the mass killings of millions, you diminish the true meaning of the final solution. Because you've done that frequently in this forum, one can only surmise that the real final solution doesn't have the same meaning, the same horror to you as it does to the rest of the world. If you don't like Cant's proposal of a 25% cut, then argue against it. Comparing it to a specific act of a mass killing is wrong.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

The motivation for the Nazis was to remove from society all of those that they saw as unfit. At first, they just imprisoned them, but that eventually wasn't seen as a satisfactory solution, and so, the final solution.

Can't has a very similar motivation, and he regularly proposes kicking those he deems "unfit" to the curb to fend for themselves. The undeniable result of such policies would be death and misery, not necessarily in that order, on a large scale. So while his final solution has a rather passive mechanism, that solution is pretty final for a very large number of people.

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

Better yet, let's quit giving tens of millions of dollars in cash grants to for-profit private corporations in Kansas. In a free market, they should rise or fall without cash infusions or loans or loan guarantees that take from the public coffers.

Providing for citizens who may have claims upon the aid of society due to misfortune is in the Kansas constitution. Doling out cash grants to for-profit private corporations is not in the Constitution.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

I fully agree. If your product or service, no matter what it is, is worth having, then it should stand on its' own merits. The stewards of our tax dollars have no business taking from some and giving to others. The marketplace will perform just fine if it is allowed to. It will itself pick the winners and losers. We don't need politicians funneling monies toward their brother-in-laws at the expense of others. This is inclusive and also should include most, if not all, things deemed a necessity like public transportation and the other money pits that those in Lawrence seem to think we need.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

"Money pit" clearly meaning anything that doesn't directly benefit you, especially if it does benefit the poor, the elderly, kids or the disabled.

jesse499 1 year, 11 months ago

Wouldn't mind it they funded the school's but usually ends up funding admin raises and new buildings that aren't needed instead of teachers and school needs.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

One more time, as someone posted above: Legislative funding is STUDENT and PEOPLE funding. Physical plants are the responsibility of the local government via property and/or sales taxes.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus, can pay all benefits owed to all eligible Americans for the next 21 years and, because it is funded independently, has not contributed one penny to the deficit.

No reason to make changes with 20 years left to make changes if necessary.

Social Security has been on and off our federal government’s general budget several times. , In In 1984 Reagan and Congress authorized a new Social Security tax which has produced quite a surplus every year since.

Unfortunately, both parties have hidden the true extent of their overspending behind that surplus. Because of independent funding, tax increases or cuts have not affected the surplus/fund.

Why cut its benefits if the general revenue shortage is having no affect?

Seniors on Medicare pay into Medicare each month = no freebies.

We just manage the state's money to meet demands and don't cut taxes foolishly. Sam Brownback type republicans are big spenders. They feed us rhetoric. They cut taxes so they say but borrow and spend big big big time. Who isn't paying attention?

For example:

By the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

Let's pay for the public education. Right wingers paint public education as evil when in fact I believe the evil is in the right wingers.

Dave Trabert 1 year, 11 months ago

The court may have ordered a $440 million tax increase out of the state budget but they also ordered a $154 million local property tax increase.

Among the many important funding issues the court ignored is the Local Option Budget (LOB) that districts collect on state authority. If districts have another $440 million to run through their General Fund, the LOB tax will increase by $154 million.

To arrive at the $440 million cost in state tax dollars, you have to multiply the increase of $654 per-pupil times adjusted enrollment of 672,771 (FY 2012). This is another absurdity of the court ruling; the base is just the starting point of a long formula that also raises the cost of all the weightings...At Risk, Transportation, Low Enrollment, High Enrollment, Declining Enrollment, etc.

The court may be ordering (ironically, unconstitutionally ordering based on separation of powers doctrine) the state to spend more money but the state (nor any other government) has no money of its own. Governments only collect money from taxpayers and redistribute it.

The court is effectively ordering taxpayers to pay $154 million more in property taxes and either another $440 million in taxes or reduce state funding of other services by that amount.

texburgh 1 year, 11 months ago

One problem with Dave Koch's response above is that the court did not order the state to spend more money. It ordered the legislature to follow the statute the legislature passed. That is, to fund the base at $4492 as the statute requires. That's not more money; that's "obey your own law."

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

Your comment is disingenuous. The court is "effectively ordering" no such thing.

Rational thinking from the court's opinion:

"It seems completely illogical that the state can argue that a reduction in education funding was necessitated by the downturn in the economy and the state's diminishing resources and at the same time cut taxes further, thereby reducing the sources of revenue on the basis of a hope that doing so will create a boost to the state's economy at some point in the future," the court wrote.

So, 2 obvious solutions: a) rescind the recent tax cuts, so as to have enough in the public coffers to meet the requirements of funding education in a constitutional manner, or b) rescind some of the $1.01 billion incentive programs the state pays out yearly, and apply that money to the constitutionally mandated funding of education.

Like it or not, funding public education is a constitutionally mandated core function of the Kansas government.

Giving away tens of millions of dollars from the public coffers to for-profit corporations is not.

KSManimal 1 year, 11 months ago

And the Trabert lies flow freely, as expected.

First, the court did not order a tax increase at any level of government.

Second, an increase in state funding does not automatically create an increase in LOB. That would require local school boards to take action, which they may or may not decide to do. Either way, that's between the local taxpayers and their local BOE's.

Third, the court is not "unconstitutionally" violating any separation of powers. In ruling on the constitutionality of legislative/executive actions, the court is doing exactly what the judicial branch should be doing: serving as a check and balance to the powers of the other two branches. (Weren't you paying attention in middle school civics class, Dave?).

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

Kansas doles out $1.01 billion dollars in cash grants, loans and loan guarantees in its "incentive" programs. Tens of millions of dollars go directly to private corporations.

Funding public education is a constitutionally mandated core function of the Kansas government. Giving incentive grants to for-profit corporations and guaranteeing loans for them is not.

That's where the money can be found to meet the core functions of the Kansas government.

http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/elevate-them-guns-a-little-lower/2013/jan/11/funding-for-education-how-about-the-101-/

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

OK, let me understand this.

You say that the Court ordered the legislature, unconstitutionally, to stand by its own law, which obligates the districts to raise $154 million themselves. So what? Why is this a bad thing? I have no problem paying my share of a government-mandated tax which goes directly to the kids, so why do you and the Legislature?

Then you say that the state has no money to uphold its own laws, and you blame that on who? Am I to understand that the legislature can make any law it wants concerning revenue and spending and then can ignore that law at will? "Governments only collect money from taxpayers and then distribute it." So, now your government wants to reduce the amount of money collected "from taxpayers", so has the right (some might say hubris) to not pay out what it said in the first place was the right amount to distribute?

Can you say Catch 22? Your, and your buddies', arguments are based on the premise that the government can do, or not do, anything it wants.

I think, Dave, that you'll find that, in the main, the patrons of the various school districts, would be abide by legal, moral taxes if the government would stand by its own promises to them. Do we want higher taxes? Absolutely not. Will we tender them if the need is great? Absolutely. The recent national election may have escaped your notice as you sat on the phone with Sam, Charles, and company, producing absolutely no income-producing product, but the majority of voters in the nation told Congress that they are tired of your trickle-down myth, that they are willing to pony up the tax dollars that will help the economy recover and our children have a better shot at success in a global economy.

Where do you guys get off justifying not doing your jobs by quoting "scary" statistics purporting to show that the State is broke (as a result of many, many things not of our direct fault) and can not, or, if you will, WILL NOT, stand by their pledge to the students and citizens of Kansas?

Your "mitigating circumstances" do NOT have the force of law, and will not be tolerated by the majority for much longer, once the true results of your "friends'" programs becomes evident. And, belive me, Dave, those results will appear.

Armstrong 1 year, 11 months ago

"Scott Rothschild contributed to this story from Topeka."

Nuff said

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

If you dispute any of the items Mr. Rothschild reports, can you catalogue them, Armstrong?

Also, can you tell us how you determine which items in the story come from Mr. Rothschild and which come from the AP reporter?

Or do you come to sweeping unsupportable conclusions based on no evidence, much like those who cut taxes, thus harming the state's ability to meet its constitutionally mandated core function of government, without an eye to the predictable consequences?

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

Nuff said, Army, because you now have nothing else to argue against since the entire report is nothing but facts, which totally refute your entire line of (?) thinking.

Liberty275 1 year, 11 months ago

Government at war with itself. It brings tears of joy to libertarians.

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

It might bring you tears of joy, but this brings no joy to those share the Founders' belief that government is instituted to secure our inalienable rights, nor to those who wish to see Kansas's constitution upheld and followed by state representatives.

Alyosha 1 year, 11 months ago

In the context of this story, your assertion that "there will never be enough taxpayer money to satisfy some people" is without merit or support. The court is simply saying that school funding must be set at $4,492 per pupil.

The Kansas constitution mandates public financing of education. It mentions nothing about vouchers.

The legislature and governor are clearly not following the constitution. One wonders why that doesn't bother Kansans like Rockchalk1977.

Shelley Bock 1 year, 11 months ago

It doesn't bother RC1997 because he doesn't really believe in the Constitution. If he likes a Constitutional provision, then it is great. If he doesn't like it, then he ignores it or brands it "communistic" or something.

Most of those who are RINOS or left of them don't like everything legal, but try to change the law and are often resigned to what is believed unfair and ridiculous.

KSManimal 1 year, 11 months ago

Actually, the state constitution specifically forbids any religious entity from controlling any public school funds; so that would say something about some vouchers.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Keep in mind every time Kansas republicans reduce or kill a tax revenue source it increases taxes elsewhere like in YOUR community. When we hear a republican boast about reducing taxes when in fact their actions increase taxes in OUR communities makes them liars.

Republicans strong point over the past 33 years is mastering the art of deception beyond reality.

Sam Brownback will do all he can to prevent our public education system from receiving OUR tax dollars.

I say it is time to audit the the state tax dollar accounts to discover how are tax dollars are being spent before republicans drive the state into bankruptcy.

The court order did not increase taxes that is a misconception. The court ordered that schools be funded at levels before republicans began reducing funding at will. Kansas is not broke. It's just republicans have a different agenda for public school funds that which was never approved by the voters.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Privatization/vouchers = a right wing money laundering scheme.

Vouchers are a vehicle to funnel tax dollars into private schools. Using the false promise of “choice,” they are an unabashed abandonment of public education and of our hopes for a vibrant democracy.

Barbara Miner has been a reporter, writer, and editor for almost forty years, writing for publications ranging from the New York Times to the Milwaukee Journal. The former managing editor of Rethinking Schools, she has co-edited numerous books on education, including Selling out Our Schools: Vouchers, Markets, and the Future of Public Education. Her book Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City will be published New Press in January 2013.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/10/13-0

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

This money that should be spent. There is nothing necessarily wrong with public education. Simply because the repub party has been painting public education as evil so they can blow tax $$$$$ on privatization does not make public education a bad investment. Public education is a best bang for the buck. Privatization will neither cost tax payers less nor will it improve a situation that is not broken.

Republicans are not smart business people. They believe that defunding a taxpayer public service makes it operate more efficiently. They believe that people should make less money for the hard work they contribute to the system. Yet they are perfectly willing to throw tons and tons of tax dollars at wealthy for profit industries instead of telling them to go away...... then again wealthy corporations fund their political campaigns.

George_Braziller 1 year, 11 months ago

Brownback's disastrous tax plan was already going to shift the burden to local property taxes. Now he can spin it and blame the judicial branch.

PublicEducationMatters 1 year, 11 months ago

This is a battle going back to 2004. He--and the Kansas Legislature--chose to ignore the previous court orders, which have the force of law. He can spin all he wants but if intelligent Kansans have anything to say about it, all he should get from that spin is dizzy.

George_Braziller 1 year, 11 months ago

His administration is pushing hard to change the laws for the process of selecting and appointing judges. Once he accomplishes that he would have enough power and support to overide the state constitution and change it as he wants.

Doug Fisher 1 year, 11 months ago

Problem is most of the intelligent, educated folks are moving away from Kansas, myself included. Hopefully, there are a few folks left in Lawrence to address this issue.

Charles Fogarty 1 year, 11 months ago

There's hope for Kansas after all. If you want an educated populace, you must pay for it. If you're not willing to pay for an educated populace, I wonder why not?

Orwell 1 year, 11 months ago

It's easier to hoodwink the ignorant. If your maintenance of power and diversion of assets to the ruling class depend on the Big Lie – constant repetition of demonstrably false slogans in place of reasoned debate – you don't want voters smart enough to sniff out your nonsense.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 11 months ago

The judges should invalidate the income tax cuts passed last year to restore funding to schools until the legislature passes an alternative. The GOP is worse than Freddy Krueger, Jack the Ripper, leatherface, and any other real or imaginary villain you can imagine. They are robbing kids futures so the Koch brothers can pay less in taxes.

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