Archive for Tuesday, October 8, 2013

State argues court can’t order more funding for schools; two justices say state broke its promise

October 8, 2013


— Attorneys for the state today told the Kansas Supreme Court that it can't order the Legislature to increase funding to public schools, but two justices said the state broke its promise to schools.

The court is hearing a lawsuit by several school districts arguing that the state has failed to comply with a 2006 court order to increase school funding. A lower court ruling ordered the state to increase funding by $500 million per year.

But Solicitor General Stephen McAllister argued that the constitutional provision that the Legislature provide a suitable provision for funding doesn't mean there are unlimited funds for schools.

"The constitution shouldn't be a suicide pact," McAllister said.

He said the Legislature has to deal with economic realities and that when tax revenue tanked during the Great Recession schools had to be cut.

But Justice Eric Rosen said the state made a promise in 2006 to increase funding and then broke that promise.

Justice Lee Johnson said the dismissal of the 2006 school funding lawsuit "was induced by that promise and that promise wasn't kept."

Later, attorney Alan Rupe, representing the schools, said the state has recently cut taxes by billions of dollars and then "plead they can't fund schools."

Rupe said academic proficiency scores went down as the school cuts were implemented.


yourworstnightmare 4 years, 6 months ago

"He said the Legislature has to deal with economic realities and that when tax revenue tanked..."

Two things: 1) Since when does the Brownback administration and the GOP deal with realities?

2) Tax revenue tends to tank when taxes are cut, as Brownback and the legislature have done.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 6 months ago

Also, this is the flip side of Keynesian economics. Actually, it's what he really proposed. And that is that governments should build surpluses in good years, so that in the inevitable down years they will have the funds necessary to offset falling revenues. Cutting taxes doesn't produce economic growth that benefits the general population.

Bob Forer 4 years, 6 months ago

More lies from the Brownback administration. What else is new?

James Nelson 4 years, 6 months ago

The Brownback administration offers the most insincere and disingenuous excuses for not properly funding education. It is sickening. Voters absolutely must wake up at the next election. Sam and his ultra conservative buds in the legislature must be turned out of office to restore some sanity and reasonableness to the funding of things the state is required to take care of. His rich buddies have pirated enough from the rest of us.

optimist 4 years, 6 months ago

It seems civics has lost favor amongst our educators. That probably says a lot about our education system. Apparently these judges fail to recognize their Constitutional limits. Funding for education, taxation and budgetary policy are all powers held by the legislature, not the state Supreme Court or any judge for that matter, or the Governor. The legislature holds that authority because they are elected and most directly represent the people proportionately. If the electorate doesn't approve then it is in our power to make a change (i.e. Colorado). If the Supreme Court fails to recognize their limits then how can they ever expect the people let alone the other branches of the government to respect and recognize their authority where it lies? They will in essence spark a Constitutional crisis. That being said this is no more the Governors doing than it is the Courts right to interfere. It is up to the state legislature to resolve this. The people have the ultimate say; we are the remedy.

optimist 4 years, 6 months ago

And to that point the previous legislature had no obligation to enter into the agreement though they did. That said they didn't have the authority to commit future legislatures to the agreement. If the courts have the authority to force a legislature to be beholden to an agreement of this nature then why do we need a legislature or any other form of representative government? The courts simply took power they didn't have (in defining “suitable”) and the previous legislature was either too weak or very willing for a tax increase they didn’t have to take responsibility for to fight them on it.

elliottaw 4 years, 6 months ago

The legislator defined (put a number on) what was suitable the court is holding them to their word, also know as doing its job.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

The SC exists to ensure compliance with the constitution, both at the state and federal levels.

Since we have the phrase "suitable education" in the constitution, it's up the to KS SC to determine whether or not the legislature is following the constitution - that's their job.

Many people don't seem to understand this - I don't know why.

You're right that various kinds of conflicts between branches can result in a "constitutional crisis", but that's because of the lack of understanding of the role of the branches, and a desire to blunt the rightful authority of the judicial system.

In other words, if the legislature simply ignores the SC, they're the ones creating the problem.

George_Braziller 4 years, 6 months ago

The judges didn't cross their Constitutional limits. Their ruling simply stated that the Legislature didn't uphold and meet the funding requirements spelled out in the Constitution.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 6 months ago

Millions of dollars to defend indefensible, unconstitutional legislation in Federal courts and not one thin dime for schools. This makes sense to the Kansas Tea Party.

nekansan 4 years, 6 months ago

It might be worth noting the court never defined suitable. In fact in the previous rulings it simply relied on the only evidence of the cost of a suitable education that was presented. In this case it was a study, by the state, ordered by the legislature, that determined the costs of providing a suitable education. The court defined nothing, it simply implemented the findings of the legislatures own cost study that they chose to ignore.

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