The Kansas Supreme Court threw out the legislature’s latest school funding plan and told the legislature to draft a new, equitable one by June 30. If the legislature fails to enact such a plan, the Court will close the schools.

 

Governor Sam Brownback has very little wiggle room because of the tax cuts enacted when he was elected. He is threatening to cut higher education and Medicaid to direct more funding to K-12 schools.

 

 

“The ruling was the latest volley in a long battle over public education in Kansas. A lawsuit from a coalition of school districts led the Kansas Supreme Court to order the Legislature in 2014 to increase funding to poorer districts.

 

“The court and the Legislature have been at odds ever since. In February, the court said that a solution proposed by lawmakers, to use block grants to allocate funds, had failed to address inequities in schools. In response, the Legislature passed a bill that it said gave poorer districts a fair share of funding. Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, signed the measure in April.

 

“In a 47-page ruling, the court rejected that bill, saying the Legislature’s formula “creates intolerable, and simply unfair, wealth-based disparities among the districts.”

 

“This case requires us to determine whether the state has met its burden to show that recent legislation brings the state’s K-12 public school funding system into compliance with Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution,” the ruling said. “We hold it has not.”

 

“The Legislature is expected to meet Wednesday before it officially adjourns for the session.
Ray Merrick, the House speaker, said in a statement, “The court has yet again demonstrated it is the most political body in the state of Kansas.”

 

“Dumping the ruling at 5 p.m. the day before a long weekend and holding children hostage,” Mr. Merrick said. “This despite the fact that the Legislature acted in good faith to equalize the record amounts of money going to schools.”

 

“Satisfying the court could mean spending tens of millions more on public schools, a measure that Mr. Brownback said could be achieved by making more cuts to higher education and Medicaid.”