Accountability Equity Funding Justice Kansas

Good News! Kansas Supreme Court Rules That Legislators Are Not Funding Schools Equitably

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Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas nearly bankrupted the State with his theory that cutting taxes would cause a huge economic boom. Taxes were cut but there was no boom. Meanwhile, the schools of Kansas were underfunded.

The state Supreme Court ordered the legislature to fix school funding. The legislature tinkered. Back and forth. Yesterday the Kansas Supreme Court ordered the legislature again to meet their constitutional obligation to fund the schools.

“The ruling also ordered a fairer distribution of state funding, to ensure that students in poor districts have the same educational opportunities as their peers in wealthier communities.

“The majority of justices supported giving the Legislature until June, but no more time than that, for a final fix on state funding of schools.

“That will give lawmakers, who will reconvene in January, a full regular session to try to come up with a school-finance law that meets court requirements, negating the need for a special session.

“The court is ordering that a new funding law be crafted before April 30 so there’s time for the justices to review it before the annual budget and the schools’ money runs out.

“Once legislation is enacted, the State will have to satisfactorily demonstrate to this court by June 30, 2018, that its proposed remedy brings the state’s education financing system into compliance with Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution regarding the violations identified, i.e., both adequacy and equity,” the court ruling said.

“After that date we will not allow ourselves to be placed in the position of being complicit actors in the continuing deprivation of a constitutionally adequate and equitable education owed to hundreds of thousands of Kansas school children.”

“Three of the seven justices – Lee Johnson, Eric Rosen and Dan Biles – wrote or joined in dissents saying they want the Legislature to have to move faster.

“I would direct the State to tell us no later than the end of this year precisely how the legislature intends to fix its years-long breach of the Kansas Constitution,” Johnson wrote.

“The case, called Gannon v. Kansas, has been going on since November of 2010.

“On Monday, the court specifically held that a school-finance law the Legislature passed earlier this year is unconstitutional.”

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