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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Statehouse Live: GOP losing steam on quickie proposal to change constitution on school finance

January 18, 2013

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— House Speaker Ray Merrick on Friday said it was unlikely that the Legislature could place a constitutional amendment on the April ballot that would seek to thwart a court order to increase school funding.

"I don't think that is doable," said Merrick, R-Stilwell.

When the legislative session started Monday, some GOP leaders said they could quickly adopt a constitutional amendment for voter consideration during the April 2 election.

Last week, a panel of three district court judges ruled the Legislature had failed its constitutional duty to provide adequate school funding and ordered a $440 million increase.

The decision was blasted by Republican leaders, including Gov. Sam Brownback, who called on legislators to make it clear in the law that the Legislature is in charge of school funding.

Meanwhile, Democrats say the Legislature should work to try to comply with the court order.

"On the education front, it appears to me that Gov. Brownback and the Republican leadership don't have any intention of trying to deal with the school funding issue and do so in a way that would address the looming court case that is now headed to the Kansas Supreme Court," House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said.

Davis said he believed there was enough opposition from Democrats and some Republicans in the House to block constitutional amendments aimed at redefining provisions dealing with "suitable" funding of schools. Proposed constitutional amendments require two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate before they can be put before the voters.

"This is an issue that the Legislature is going to be forced to deal with sooner or later," Davis said.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, on Friday briefed House Republicans on the school finance case in his first public comments since the decision was handed down Jan. 11.

Schmidt said Kansas University law professor Stephen McAllister will help on the state's appeal of the school finance ruling.

"We are buttressing our appellate team a bit," Schmidt said. The team also includes private attorneys from Wichita who handled the case at trial, he said.

McAllister has served as state solicitor general in several cases. Last year, he was sent to Washington, D.C., to help attorneys from Kansas and other states challenging the Affordable Care Act.

In 2006, McAllister also argued on the state's behalf before the Kansas Supreme Court in an earlier school finance lawsuit.

Comments

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

1: The headline can stop after the first five words.

2: The issue is not who is in charge of funding education, but one of the legislators following their own rule of law. That is something that Sam and the Gang can not ignore, say the courts.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

And I do NOT know how those words became so gigantic. I was not shouting, and I'm sorry. I don't know how I did that.

Michael Henderson 1 year, 11 months ago

They came out the same size as everyone else's on the site - looks like 7pt Helvetica.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

That's what I hate about apologizing--when I need to I don't, and when not, I do. The original post was about the size of Mt. Rushmore.

Larry Sturm 1 year, 11 months ago

Quit waisting wasteing money on lawyers and finance the schools.

Andrew Dufour 1 year, 11 months ago

amen, private attorneys plus a professors salary and AG. I know funding would be significantly more expensive but still, this is a waste of money. Especially when you think about what they're defending. "we shouldn't have to adequately fund one of the only thing the State actually funds."

situveux1 1 year, 11 months ago

So funny.

Stop wasting my tax money on school district lawyers to sue taxpayers.

Greg Cooper 1 year, 11 months ago

Then stop wasting the time of all of us and follow the law as set forward by the same legislature that made the rule in the first place.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 11 months ago

Passing a constitutional amendment would take a full frontal attack on public education, which includes every small school district in the state, whose voters the far right of the Republican party depend on. Even the most dogmatic of these wackos probably recognizes what a political disaster that could bring.

Much easier to change the method of selecting judges and stack the courts with ideologues who can destroy the social and economic fabric of Kansas in myriad ways, including the public schools.

JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

What's McAllister's record now? 0-20? Just one loser amongst a bigger bunch of losers.

Eride 1 year, 11 months ago

He would have a better record if the state would stop wasting money litigating losing arguments....

chootspa 1 year, 11 months ago

I dunno. If he's spending all of his time fighting in courts for losing extremist viewpoints, perhaps the students are better off for his absence.

oldexbeat 1 year, 11 months ago

I have been told first hand that Brownback's people have contacted the School Board members of USDs where administrators have spoken out for the funding increases. There must be a name for this type of thug, but I don't know it. Ok, dictator works. Brownbackistan moves forward -- sadly, not as VP to Rick Perry, LOL

sciencegeek 1 year, 11 months ago

Threats and arm-twisting have been going on ever since the Brownback Mafia took over. State employees have been dealing with this since Day 1. No one dares question anythhhing lest they find themselves out on the street. It is hideous, insidious, and as un-American as you can get. Which also explains why the general public doesn't know just how heavy-handed this administration is.

Makes me sick.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 11 months ago

Don't ever believe Sam Brownback is going to ante up.... no way jose'.

He has other uses for public school money such as money laundering to fundamentalist private schools.

Until the school districts have the dollars in hand don't ever believe Sam has changed his mind. He is looking for ways to stonewall.... Anyone who thinks otherwise has not been paying attention to Sam Brownback.

If Sam cannot get enough repub support he will say screw them and move on in his direction.

Time to begin discussion about the governor in contempt of court.

Katara 1 year, 11 months ago

"GOP losing steam on quickie proposal to change constitution on school finance "

Translation: Our constituents are completely pissed off about our latest stunt and we're trying to COA to protect our jobs.

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