Archive for Monday, November 18, 2013

Brownback says litigation over school finance is ‘dumb way of handling this’; only Republicans invited to discussion

November 18, 2013, 11:53 a.m. Updated November 18, 2013, 4:43 p.m.


— Facing a possible court-ordered increase in public school funding, Gov. Sam Brownback has called for opening up the dialogue between legislators and school leaders.

But a meeting Brownback has set up for next week at Cedar Crest, the governor’s home, features only Republican elected officials and school district representatives who are not among the plaintiffs in the school finance lawsuit before the Kansas Supreme Court, according to an invitation obtained Monday by the Lawrence Journal-World.

Speaking against school finance litigation, Brownback said, “This a dumb way of handling this. This is the wrong way to handle it.”

A lower court panel has ruled that the state has unconstitutionally cut public school funding while passing mammoth tax cuts and it has ordered an increase of upwards of $500 million per year.

The state has appealed, and the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule in the next couple of months.

Brownback said school superintendents and legislative leaders needed to meet to discuss school funding.

“If you’re not talking, you’re not going to come up with any resolution. If you’re talking, you got a chance of being able to come up with something,” he said.

On Nov. 25, Brownback will meet with Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita; House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell; House Education Chairwoman Kasha Kelly and Senate Education Chairman Steve Abrams, both of whom are Republicans from Arkansas City; State Board of Education member Ken Willard, R-Hutchinson; the superintendents of the Shawnee Mission, McPherson, Fairfield and Seaman school districts; and Kansas Association of School Boards President Frank Henderson.

The invitation from the governor’s office states: “I know the governor looks forward to a discussion and to open a line of communication between legislative leaders and the education community heading into next session.”

School finance is expected to dominate the 2014 legislative session, which starts in January.

Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll said the district and local legislators already had open lines of communication.

“We have a great relationship with our local delegation and feel that they are very responsive to our needs,” Doll said.

On the issue of school funding litigation, Brownback re-emphasized his opposition to a court-ordered resolution.

As a law student at Kansas University more than 30 years ago, he said he listened to a lecture from former State District Judge Terry Bullock, who was a key figure in earlier Kansas school finance lawsuits.

“I heard a lecture from Judge Bullock then talking about the litigation and how he was going to handle it and push the Legislature. I was saying, ‘Why are you the guy doing this? This sounds like something, you know, a governor, or legislative leadership ought to be (handling). Why is this, a judge, that’s sitting here on top of this?”


George Lippencott 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Coming back to the left side of the page in summary Barbara Gordon seems to be arguing that a few jurists in Topeka should set 40% of our taxes? She seems to be arguing that this needs to be so because a study (one of a number) suggested we could use more money for K-12. She seems to demean studies that suggest that there were flaws in the first study. She ignores the very real fact that that the kids are doing very well on national standardized tests. She ignores separation of powers and the very real argument that we should only be taxed by people who we elect. – as set forth in our founding documents.

To me that collection of her arguments suggests that she wants government run by unelected educated elites based on studies of dubious quality. That is sort of the notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the communist political system.

Why cannot the people of Kansas through their elected officials set tax rates as they have for generations? If they have been misled (You can keep your health care …) at least here in Kansas we can adjust that through the elected process in short order. Apparently patience (waiting for the electorate) is not the strong suit of the left. Or is it that the left really does not trust the electorate or believe in Democracy???


Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Unfortunately USD 497 is using K-12 Inc which is part of the right wing agenda which to my way of thinking should be replaced.

Think about these.

--- Calvert

--- Live Education

--- Oak Meadow

--- Living Education – quite interesting


Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Considering Sam Brownback is quite close to the Koch family … his political philosophies must also be closely related.

John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group

The 2012 GOP is the naked Emperor, but covered with tattoos reading "John Birch Society," "Koch Industries," and "I heart Bull Connor." The "subjects" are the media, which thinks the GOP is clothed in the raiments of a respectable political party.

The 2012 Republican Party is barely distinguishable from the John Birch Society. It is funded in large part by the Koch brothers, the heirs of Fred Koch, one of the Birch Society's founding members. The Kochs may not be members of the Society, but their ideas -- extreme laissez-faire capitalism with communism lurking in any regulation, unions, health care and even Civil Rights laws -- are virtually the same. (One of the current right's few attempts to avoid looking like Birchers is morphing communism into "socialism." No need to explain to the faithful that they're really the same.)

What is infuriating is not just that the Republican Party has gone mostly Bircher, but that the media refuses to recognize this. One party is advocating killing the New Deal, starving government by cutting taxes on the wealthiest, using the noxious voter-suppression methods of the most vicious segregationists, and tolerating racist conspiracy theories. That is not business as usual.

The GOP's naked extremism is there for all to see. We need to constantly point this out if no one else will.


Richard Heckler 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Brownback is among the vocal minority in the country that believes it is best to sell out certain government services to corp America so they can make a bunch of money. It's all about corporate profits.

There are plenty of for profit private schools if parents want that for their children. Obviously the enrollment numbers dictate that public education is the choice by the greater majority of taxpayers across the country.

It is NOT parents who are seeking to change this it is politicians funded by special interest campaign money.

Why don't voters simply shut down this movement on a ballot vote so right wing GOP politicians stop wasting taxpayers time and money screwing with the budget year after year?


Richard Heckler 5 months ago

Where in the world does Sam Brownback get his unorthodox thinking?

ALEC Private Schools - Corporate Education Reformers Plot Next Steps at Secretive Meeting


5 months ago

It's interesting that The Guv held a closed meeting attended only by friends. Was Dave T there to pass out guidance from the Kochs?


George Lippencott 5 months ago

I do not understandd the Republicans only comment. Is the Governor not the "head" of the Republican party in Kansas? Does he not have a right to meet with his party. Does Mr. Obama not hold meetings in the White House that are Democratic only meetings?

Now as far as state programs and responsibilities - that is the outcome of our democratic process. Studies come and go - validity is always suspect when they deal with resources. Just because you personally feel more money should be spent on something does not make that a political imperative. Others disagree and they appear to be in the majority at this time.

If you think something deserves more resources you are always free to send in your money. You just don't have the right to make other people send in their money when you are in the political minority.


Lane Signal 5 months ago

Brownie is right. Litigation is a dumb way to handle this. Dialog is a better way to work through differences and arrive at an equitable solution. I wish Brownie and his conies had considered this before ramming the budget cuts through without listening to others. Maybe he should have thought of what a stupid way this is to handle things before cutting taxes and making it impossible for Kansas to fund state programs and responsibilities. The problem with Brownie's argument that the other side is unwilling to talk is that he is never willing to talk if he thinks he can steam roll over the opposition. I'm not saying Sammy is original in his style of ignoring opinions that differ form his own, but he does seem to have made it into an art form. The only thing he excels more in is hypocrisy.


Devin Wilson 5 months ago

Meanwhile, USD512, #SMSD with a 100% efficiency rating from S&P, is seeing class sizes in k-3, k-5 hitting 27 to 30 in some cases. How can a student get a question asked and answered reasonably with so many kiddos in one class? I can tell you, and a lot of other parents can tell you what Unsuitable Funding is. And maybe ask a teacher or two. No one is paying me to say this. I'm fighting for my kids.


Dave Trabert 5 months ago

No one knows what is suitable funding for Kansas school districts to achieve required outcomes while also making efficient use of taxpayer funds. Not a single legislator, superintendent, policy analyst or judge knows what it should cost to efficiently achieve required outcomes because no such study or analysis has ever been conducted in Kansas.

The 2001 cost study used by the Montoy and Gannon courts was quite deliberately skewed by the authors to produce higher numbers. Augenblick & Myers was supposed to based their findings on schools that were academically successful AND efficient operators. They found 35 districts that met their criteria. But then they arbitrarily and without justification decided to ignore efficiency, saying that excluding high spenders "exclude those 50 districts, “might [have] undermine[d] the possibility that this higher [albeit inefficient] spending is what allows districts to be successful in Kansas.” A&M just wanted to inflate the numbers and adjusted their methodology for that purpose.

Some people believe that suitable funding levels were determined by a 2006 Legislative Post Audit (LPA) study but that is another misunderstanding. LPA made this and one other distinction perfectly clear (on page 2), saying, “it’s important to remember that these cost studies are intended to help the Legislature decide appropriate funding levels for K-12 public education. They aren’t intended to dictate any specific funding level, and shouldn’t be viewed that way. Finally, within these cost studies we weren’t directed to, nor did we try to, examine the most cost-effective way for Kansas school districts to be organized and operated. Those can be major studies in their own right."

The initial Gannon ruling and the Montoy courts noted that the Legislature provided no evidence indicating that its funding decisions over the years were based on their own detailed analysis. If so, it’s understandable that a court might find that the legislature had not done enough to arrive at a system that could be measured against a constitutional requirement and send the Legislature back to the drawing board, but it is quite another matter for a court to act as it did in Montoy and set a constitutional standard on the basis of a study deliberately designed to provide inflated figures.

The State Supreme Court is considering an appeal of Gannon as this is written. There is considerable speculation as to whether the court will decide in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant but there is also a third option. The court could declare that neither party is correct and order the Legislature to develop a funding system that provides funding required to meet intended outcomes while also having districts organized and operating in a cost-effective manner. That would be a decision in the favor of students and citizens.

This is all documented at


Larry Sturm 5 months ago

How dumb is giving tax breaks to the rich and not funding schools.


Scott Morgan 5 months ago

If raising taxes increase tax revenue, then why don't we raise it to 90 percent. Makes sense in this argument. Of course Brownback and other successful low or no tax governors understand the complexity of our system.

Or, have we become a grab the tax buck goodies nation?


Beer Guy 5 months ago

A dumb way to do things? What do you expect from an under-educated state?


Addie Line 5 months ago

Sounds just like my grade schooler when she gets caught doing something wrong. "That rule is dumb anyways!"



Barbara Gordon 5 months ago

I think we're all agreeing that you picked a dumb way to handle it, Sam.


Patricia Davis 5 months ago

I keep saying Brownback's financial policies are like the kid who killed his parents then begged the judge for clemency because he was an orphan.

Dumb is being a lawyer who doesn't understand the Kansas constitution.


Bruce Bertsch 5 months ago

So lets see if I understand Sam the Sham...First you cut taxes decreasing the State revenue stream. Next you cut school funding due to a shortage of funds. When you are sued for violating the state constitution, your attorneys plead that you can't fund education because revenue is down. Maybe if we had just left taxes alone or (gasp) increased them, we could have avoided the whole thing. You know, having the legislature live up to what they promised the last time they were sued.


Andrew Dufour 5 months ago

Seems to me that if you don't want to get sued over school funding maybe don't cut school funding in a state with a constitutional mandate to fund the schools. I do agree that there are quicker ways to get things done than the courts but the fact is that this administration has not exactly shown a great deal of willingness to fund much of anything.


Brock Masters 5 months ago

Sounds like a man that knows he is going to lose in court.


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