District Court Says Kansas School Budget is Unconstitutional


Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s plan to cut his way out of budget holes generated by his signature tax cuts hit a snag this week as the Shawnee County District Court ruled that the state’s education budget was “inadequate” under the state constitution.

From The Wichita Eagle

It falls short of the “Rose standards” – outlined in a Kentucky case and adopted by courts across the country – that say students should get an adequate opportunity to learn language skills, social studies, health and other subjects so they can grow up to function in and contribute to society, the judges said.

“We find the Kansas public education financing system – through structure and implementation – is not presently reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed the Rose factors,” the Shawnee County District Court panel concluded in Gannon v. Kansas. “It is inadequate from any rational perspective of the evidence presented or proffered to us.”

The court reportedly suggested that the state legislature increase the amount of aide the state provides to schools on a per-student basis and the attorney representing the school districts which sued the state predicts that plugging the hole would cost “between $548 million and $771 million” per year.

That’s an unfortunately high number for Governor Sam Brownback because his signature tax cuts are projected to create a revenue shortfall of $1 billion over the next two years and it could be even worse than that.

Brownback and the state legislature have already drawn up plans to cut the state budget to plug a $280 million hole for the current fiscal year.

Under the Brownback plan, the state will cut taxes each year between now and 2018.

  • muselet

    “We are disappointed by today’s ruling by the panel, which in areas seems in tension with the Kansas Supreme Court’s guidance,” Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a short statement Tuesday afternoon.

    Translation: We don’t like this ruling, so we’re going to pretend there’s a loophole we can see if we squint hard enough. Oh, and we’ll appeal this over and over, until we find a panel of judges that rules our way.

    The three judges expressly rejected a state law passed by the Legislature to try to force courts to recognize local option budget money as part of the constitutional test of whether the Legislature provides suitable funding for education. Doing that would make the constitutional guarantee of an adequate education “a function of fortuity and local largess rather than one of enforceable constitutional substance,” the judges said.

    Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, accused the court panel of assuming “a very political and antagonistic posture in this ruling.”

    But but but … Rich kids deserve to have more money spent on their education! Only partisan judges would think otherwise! How dare they!

    Gov. Sam Brownback issued a statement saying he wants to rewrite the school finance formula rather than plug more money into the existing one.

    “I continue to believe that restructuring the school funding formula and implementing education policy reforms is critical not only to getting more money into our classrooms but also improving student achievement,” he said.

    The next time Sam Brownback cares about students will be the first time.

    Congratulations, Kansas, on keeping these vandals in charge of your state. Enjoy your tax cuts.


  • Nefercat

    It’s interesting, and depressing, that these dolts expect the rill eggsepshunal ‘Murka with its shiny consumer geegaws and the golden sun of comfort and prosperity reflecting off of the gold-plated perfectly maintained infrastructure to exist on the budget of the poorest of third world countries.

  • They’re drilling holes in the bottom of the lifeboat to let all the water drain out.

    Don’t worry! It will work!