Statehouse Live: Proposed constitutional amendment would take court out of school finance

? A House committee has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the Kansas Supreme Court from disputes over funding schools.

House Concurrent Resolution 5010 would change a key constitutional provision regarding school finance.

Currently, the Kansas Constitution says: “The Legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.”

The provision has been used by proponents of increased school funding to petition the courts to order the Legislature to increase funding and make that funding more fairly distributed.

But Gov. Sam Brownback and many in the Legislature say they want legislators to have the final say in school finance.

HCR 5010 would change the constitutional provision to read: “The Legislature shall provide the equitable distribution of public school funds in a manner and amount as may be determined by the Legislature.”

Proposed constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate before they are placed before voters for consideration. If the measure is adopted, it could be on the ballot in November 2012.

As proposed, the amendment’s explanatory language says:

“A vote for this amendment would require the equitable distribution of public school funds, with the manner and amount to be determined by your elected representatives and senators in the Kansas Legislature.

“A vote against this amendment would retain the current provision in the Kansas Constitution which has been interpreted by the Kansas Supreme Court as requiring the Kansas Legislature to provide funding for public schools in amounts that may be determined by the court.”