Topeka 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.