Archive for Monday, January 14, 2013

Statehouse Live: Republican leaders considering constitutional change to thwart school finance ruling

January 14, 2013


— Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said Monday that Republican leaders are considering putting a constitutional amendment on the April 2 ballot aimed at thwarting a court-ordered increase in school funding.

Republican legislative leaders on Monday held a news conference criticizing the court ruling that found the Legislature has shirked its constitutional duty in funding schools. From left to right are State Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, and chairman of the Senate Education Committee; House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, R-Louisburg; House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell; Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, who is standing at the podium; and House Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast, R-Emporia.

Republican legislative leaders on Monday held a news conference criticizing the court ruling that found the Legislature has shirked its constitutional duty in funding schools. From left to right are State Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, and chairman of the Senate Education Committee; House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, R-Louisburg; House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell; Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce, R-Hutchinson, who is standing at the podium; and House Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast, R-Emporia.

The discussion is in response to last week's ruling by a three-judge panel that the Kansas Legislature has failed its constitutional duty to provide adequate school funding. The panel said the Legislature must fulfill its earlier promise to fund base state aid at $4,492 per pupil, which would require a $440 million increase. Base state aid is now at $3,838 per pupil.

The judges also criticized the state's arguments that it had to cut school funding during the recession but then cut taxes.

Republican legislative leaders have decried the decision.

"We clearly disagree with the courts," said Wagle on the first day of the 2013 legislative session. "We believe they have overstepped their boundaries. We believe they should not be appropriators and that that role should be clearly left in the hands of elected officials."

Attorney General Derek Schmidt has filed notice to appeal the ruling to the Kansas Supreme Court.

A constitutional change must be adopted by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate and be approved by a simple majority of voters in a statewide election.

To get any measure on the April ballot, the proposal would have to win approval in the Legislature in early February.

The education article of the Kansas Constitution commands legislators to "make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state." The Supreme Court has said in rulings in 2005 and 2006 that lawmakers must finance an adequate education for every child, keep up with rising educational costs and ensure that schools continually improve.

Wagle said there have been discussions among Republicans on possible amendments that would either remove the "suitable provision" or more specifically spell out that the Legislature is in charge of school finance.

In addition, Republicans are considering a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Gov. Sam Brownback more power in selecting appellate judges.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, said he was open to proposals to changing the constitution. "When you amend the constitution, it's giving the public a chance to vote, and I'm always for letting them express their opinion at the ballot box," Merrick said.

But Karen Godfrey, president of the Kansas National Education Association, said the Legislature should restore cuts that have been made to schools over the past few years.

"We've had lots of indications that our education system needs new funding and I think it's time for us to face up to that and quit trying to work around it," Godfrey said.

But Republican legislative leaders said the increase required by the court ruling would result in a tax increase. They said they want schools to be held more acceptable and provide better outcomes.

"There's a lot of issues that need to be looked at. It's not just about money," said Senate Education Committee Chairman Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City.


Bike_lover 1 year, 3 months ago

Humm, this is a good idea because low taxes will attract industry and increase jobs?

Industry that's attracted to poor quality schools isn't likely to bring good jobs. It's "would you like fries with that?" jobs for Kansas children!

Or, is this a way for the homeschooling set to avoid educating all those "other" kids?


Richard Heckler 1 year, 3 months ago

Republican leadership and many sheep are against public education. They likely want school vouchers which pulls tax dollars from public school money. Therefore reducing funding for public education helps fund the vouchers.

Vouchers is means by which to fund private schools with tax dollars. I believe this could be "money laundering for corp welfare" . I'm sure this Brownback team wants to funnel money into the fundamentalist private school business.

Why on earth Kansas thought Brownback was an old school fiscal conservative socially responsible republican shows that too many have not been paying attention. In fact the entire republican delegation in DC as we speak is more of Brownback....... those that get the big special interest campaign dollars.

Although Tom Holland is a conservative democrat he would have been a much better fit for Kansas. Absolutely.


Duffman 1 year, 3 months ago

Riddle me this .... why did these brain jobs wait till now...? Kick backs ....not to mention lawyer fees.. got spent around over the last year and this one word could have been removed last year right? I mean, could this not have been done last year ...Case closed..Money saved, and it is Our Money....why?

On a side note I think they should all be held in contempt.

This is how they operate? Rewriting what we all agree is at least a decent concept...WOW


lawslady 1 year, 3 months ago

Note Hepburn's comment. Even if a majority of Kansas voters approved a Constitutional amendment (to the KS constitution, not the US one), it can only impact things that happen in the future, going forward. Such a change would not be able to undo the past. If the final court of appeal to hear this school finance case decides the state violated the constitution that was in effect at the time the offenses are alleged, and orders $ paid as a result, the new amendment (no matter what it says) cannot take away the vested rights that accrued under the older version of the law. Someone needs to get this information across to the law makers if they think that they can fix what was broken in the past by changing the rules going forward.


bevy 1 year, 3 months ago

Let's hope if these maroons do manage to get this thing on the ballot, that voters will TURN OUT and VOTE NO! Maybe this is the shakeup that's needed to get people off their butts and out to the polling places. Just be sure to bring your ID...


mcontrary 1 year, 3 months ago

Just the true characters of the legislators showing, greed for themselves and generosity for no one who needs it. As a commenter ahead of this message said, keep 'em stupid. Anyone who supports their agenda must be stupid if they haven't yet figured out that the people being disenfranchised are them, the same idiots taken in by these self-serving, greedy little minds. No taxes, no services is a grand agenda only for those at the top, not the rest of us who have little to tax, poor to no healthcare, and now, no education. Keep up the good work Brownie!


DScully 1 year, 3 months ago

Keep them stupid, that's Sam's motto.


valgrlku 1 year, 3 months ago

I recall having a conversation in a graduate-level education class here at KU about a decade ago where we discussed these same Kansas education funding issues (read: it is not a new predicament in this state). I vaguely recall the professor putting much of the blame for lack of state funding on the considerable decrease in property tax in the 1990s (car tags, etc.).

Does anyone have numbers or additional information as to whether that assertion holds true? I know that when I bought a new car (under $11k) in 1991, the taxes/registration were MUCH higher than when I bought one in 2003 (a $21k vehicle). It seems pretty logical that we can't keep lowering taxes and expect to fund basic structural necessities, although it would appear many Republicans feel the opposite is true.


sciencegeek 1 year, 3 months ago

How dare the judiciary rule against the wingnuts! Don't they understand that these are "the chosen ones"? NO ONE has the power to tell them what they can or should do!

If you don't like the outcome, change the rules. What a five-year-old would call "cheating".


consumer1 1 year, 3 months ago

Scott Rothschild — Lawrence Journal-World

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said Monday that Republican leaders are considering putting a constitutional amendment on the April 2 ballot aimed at thwarting a court-ordered increase in school funding.

Scott, did Wagle actually use the word "Thwarting"? or is that your word????


Patricia Davis 1 year, 3 months ago

For all of the Kansans who are allergic to voting Democrat, see what your continued support for a Republican party that is not your parent's Republican party has gotten you. It will get worse...until we finally get the balls to take back our government and shove these Tea Bagger Christian wing nuts to the curb. Until then, hope you enjoy those mega property tax increases coming our way.


fan4kufootball 1 year, 3 months ago

The State of KS does not require public funding of Kindergarten . Does the amount per pupil include those student?


Jean Robart 1 year, 3 months ago

This is wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels and in so many ways, that it is a necessity that if it is placed on the ballot as an amendment to the state constitution, it MUST BE DEFEATED. And before I am accused of being a liberal, i am a registered Independent who normally votes for conservative candidates. I regret voting for Brownback---now that he is showing his true colors. Why is it so difficult for people in a position of leadership to listen to the voice of the constituents and govern the way they, the public, have vocally expressed?


Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 3 months ago

Ah yes, old slippery Sue is at it again. If you remember, this is the jerk that attempted to torpedo classes she disapproved of at KU with defunding those curriculua.

She has a never ending desire to impose her Sharia-style religious flubdubbery on all citizens so that they will toe the facist republican line. She is champing at the bit to have her religious fraud taught in all the public schools, along with flim-flam Sam and his fellow wingnuts.

This should be fair warning to the voters when they approve idiots like Wagle for public office.


toe 1 year, 3 months ago

Put a large state property tax increase on the same ballot as well as eliminating the constitutional funding requirement on education. The voters will be able to see what judiciary spending really means. The property tax may pass. If so, then at least the voter has been heard.


tomatogrower 1 year, 3 months ago

They should be mandated to fund the schools according to their own study that was done. That's even more than the courts mandated. They pay some crony for a study, thinking that it will say what they want it to say, then when the study says they are woefully underfunding schools they just ignore it or try and change the wording, so they don't have to to do what is their responsibility. Despicable creeps is the only word I can come up with to describe these people and not have my post removed, it's not what is going through my head right now.


beeline 1 year, 3 months ago

The legislators disagree with the court, but want to change the law because they know what the legislature has been doing is wrong. The legislators will probably vote to change the constitution, but we get a chance to vote also on this issue. It will be simple majority for our vote. Let's see how the majority of individual Kansans feel about education funding. Start to think about how you will vote.


msezdsit 1 year, 3 months ago

Anything to attack those pesky kids. The dumber they are the easier they are to manipulate.


Keith Richards 1 year, 3 months ago

Increase funding and do it to reduce class size. A teacher is merely a babysitter when class sizes are 25-30 kids. They really should be no more than 20 and even that is pushing it.

I challenge anyone questioning the funding level to step inside a classroom with 25 kids and try teaching them to read, write, do math and science. Not to mention do it when 5 of the kids speak little to no English and the parents of half the kids could care less about their student's performance.


William Weissbeck 1 year, 3 months ago

Hey, it's not like when we wrote in the Constitution that we would provide a free public education that we meant it. I mean it's not like a Federal Second Amendment right. Now that's something that's really important to a civilized society. Now there is the argument that even the US Supreme Court cannot overturn congressional action. Thomas Jefferson said that the proper remedy to a bad law was to vote out of office the guys who passed it. Of course the "Red State Brigade of AG's" didn't think that way in filing suit against "Obamacare."


usesomesense 1 year, 3 months ago

While I'm fiscally conservative and have on more than one occasion while talking to my kids about stuff they've learned in public schools cringed at some of the things they've learned I fully realize that not investing in education is an investment in long term failure. Perhaps it should be a prerequisite that all members of our government watch the movie "Idiocracy" and be required to pass a test to make sure they understood the movie before they are allowed to start voting on policies. It seems to me if they want to keep cutting funding for education they should just go ahead and have graduation after 8th grade, drop the drinking age, marrying age, full unrestricted driving age and work restrictions to 14 (and allow marrying your first cousin - maybe even your brother or sister while they're at it) - or they could just hitch a ride with Mr. Peabody in his 'Way Back' machine (along with Sherman) and see how well that has worked in history. Which is coming first here - the chicken or the egg? The assertion seems to be that public education has failed and the practice seems to be trying to ensure that it will.
True quality educators can make significantly more money NOT educating, but doing. Historically those types effectively took a pay cut to do what they love - educating. Unfortunately they still have their own bills to pay and will end up in the private sector.


Stuart Sweeney 1 year, 3 months ago

It is interesting these boneheads don't want to adquately fund our school. They would rather thwart a ruling than try to live up to their obligations!


In_God_we_trust 1 year, 3 months ago

The blind mandate of funding needs to have legislative oversight so they can test if the needs of the schools are being met. Three judges should not have that authority. Clearly the amendment was poorly written from the beginning and needs to be fixed to redirect the judgment portion of funding to the legislature and the people. From what I see, the move to technical learning, has a large cost in paying for massive bandwidth, rather than education with e-rate.


Joe Hyde 1 year, 3 months ago

Am I getting this right? Republican conservatives want a statewide referendum seeking public support for the legislature and/or Governor Brownback to:

A) continue, knowingly and with aforethought, violating an existing Kansas Supreme Court order;

B) keep deliberately underfunding public schools in defiance of a Kansas 3-judge followup ruling, and;

C) shield, now and in perpetuity, all Kansas legislators and governors from prosecution on contempt of court charges, whether individually or in large groups, by dissolving forever the the state judiciary's authority in deciding the legality of legislative actions.

Wow, that would really be some kind of constitutional amendment.


mikekt 1 year, 3 months ago

Well, yes it should be obvious, that Kansas public schools and universities only turn out ignorant, irresponsible, mindless idiots .......& Sam Brownback is a major example that !,.... in the flesh ! LOL ! LOL ! LOL !

Just what school systems,.... that produced Sam Brownback, you think that he is out to save,........ from the wrath of the Koch right wing crowd ? Try.... none !

Read Brownies Bio !!!.......Can you say " Sam went to public schools " ?

When their is Koch money involved, is easy to be an " ingrate ", to the school systems that made you !

Maybe it's not the idea of a quality public education, that created the middle class in this country, that is so awful ......but it is the pond scum ( that is so awful ) that has floated to the top of government in Topeka, that have done there best over the years, after being public school graduates, to legislatively run the public school systems into the ground ?!


LegendaryBeast 1 year, 3 months ago

"In addition, Republicans are considering a proposed constitutional amendment that would give Gov. Sam Brownback more power in selecting appellate judges". Good God! The King of Brownbackistan already has enough power to destroy our state! Don't give him the ability to put his cronies into the only position that can stop his mad schemes!


JJE007 1 year, 3 months ago

The class has gone rogue. The classroom's gone silent. The wealth of knowledge has grown lax in the face paint of lies. Only the tools of fools work, now.

We are lost in the foam spun under their wheels of pageant, dedicated to our elected and High Schooled Kings and Queens...that of Get, Got and only God's Goods in the Groveling of the scorned, denigrated and trampled. Those we wouldn't recognize in the glass over our blessed shoulders and focused eyes of private vision.

Let us now pave the way to wealth and the enslavement of the foolish children we've taught to follow the fox and coyote.


cowboy 1 year, 3 months ago

where did your article go to ?


Larry Sturm 1 year, 3 months ago

Do any of these people have kids or grandkids in public school (WHAT ARE THEY THINKING)


Tracy Rogers 1 year, 3 months ago

Hey Susan.....if the court would have ruled that current funding was enough would you still be trying to change the Constitution?


Larry Sturm 1 year, 3 months ago

Yes spend more money on a frivilous election than a school funding increase.


question4u 1 year, 3 months ago

The Sudan doesn't have to provide "suitable provision" for the education of its citizens, so why should Kansas? After all, the Sudanese are running a whole country efficiently, not just a state.

The Sudan once had separation of power between the president, the legislature, and the judiciary, but now there's no need for all that bureaucracy. Power is in the hands of one leader and one party, as it should be. The Sudan is a great model now that Kansans don't want to follow a form of government based on American ideals. All that Kansans will have to do is vote against a constitutional protection meant to prevent abuse of power and the state won't be encumbered by concerns about the availability of equal education for all.

The sooner the state is free to cut education funding to unprecedented levels, the sooner the prosperity is going to coming rolling in. The Sudan has been a magnet for international corporations for years now, and their landscapes aren't any more picturesque than those here. The secret of their surge to the forefront of the world economy can only be their lack of investment in public schools. After all, the Sudanese are the ones who proved that funding has nothing to do with the quality of education.


observant 1 year, 3 months ago

The Republicans definitely don't want anyone educated, otherwise where would their supporters come from? The less educated and more ignorant they keep the people, the more supportive they are of the christian right wing nutcases. Look at what they voted in for governor and legislators.


Number_1_Grandma 1 year, 3 months ago

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita is big part of Ks problems!


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 3 months ago

"We believe they have overstepped their boundaries."

Courts rule on the cases filed with them. That's their job. If there weren't a constitutional requirement that the legislature adequately fund public education, the courts could not, and would not, have ruled the way they did.

So the only recourse the legislature has is to go to voters and ask them to destroy public education, something they've been trying to do by withholding adequate funding.

Will they really have the guts to try to make the case that Kansas would be better off if public schools were destroyed?


rockchalk1977 1 year, 3 months ago

This sounds like a good way to control government school spending. Very similar to Harry Reid's effort to unilaterally change Senate filibuster rules... which most liberals agree with by the way. When it comes to education, more money isn't the answer to better performance.


Hawkanator 1 year, 3 months ago

That's their plan. The less educated the electorate is the more likely they are to vote for republicans.


Niemoller 1 year, 3 months ago

Let our children down one more time and I may personally start a protest.


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