What is the higher priority? Should the Legislature send $143 million more to schools or preserve the form of government our forefathers carefully designed over two hundred years ago? The separation of powers doctrine is fundamental to maintaining our free society because it maintains a balance of powers with the judiciary unable to control the budget. That is until last Friday when the Kansas Supreme Court blurred the lines and came out with a ruling that the Kansas Legislature should appropriate an additional $143 million to the K-12 schools, for starters. The Court expects $568 million more after that.
Posts tagged as “Wichita and Kansas schools”
On the surface, it would seem like smaller class sizes would produce better educational outcomes. Intuitively, this makes sense.
Research tells a different story, however.
The Kansas Supreme Court's school finance decision is deeply flawed both in substance and in procedure. This five page judicial edict (www.kscourts.org see case no. 92,032) announced January 3 is designed to pressure the legislature into voting for more spending for public schools without saying by how much. Many tax and spend advocates are now claiming the court is requiring a tax hike, but no such specific language is contained within this decision.
Would you want to go to court and face a judge who used to serve as legal counsel for your courtroom opponent? That is one of the ethics challenges facing the state in trying to fight off the $1 billion school finance lawsuit in front of the Kansas Supreme Court. This court heard oral arguments again May 11 in this case. There are 15 school districts spending millions of dollars promoting this lengthy lawsuit against the state and its taxpayers.
TOPEKA -- Alan Cobb, director of the Kansas chapter of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, today released the following statement in response to the briefs filed in the State vs. Montoy case currently before the Kansas Supreme Court:
"As questions and concerns swirl about whether or not the Kansas Supreme Court can order a statewide tax increase, we applaud Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline for putting this issue to rest.
In a brief filed yesterday with the court and in response to questions from reporters, AG Kline said clearly that the Kansas Supreme Court does not have the authority to impose taxes or raises the current level of taxation.
From the summary of the brief filed by the Attorney General:
"The Kansas Constitution Prohibits the Supreme Court from Raising Taxes and Prohibits any Expenditure from the State General Fund from Occurring Unless Authorized by Laws Passed by the Legislature." (emphasis added)
The bottom line is that the Legislature has the responsibility to tax and to fund schools appropriately. They've met that burden.
The Kansas Legislature and the Attorney General understand that our state's taxpayers suffer the 15th worst state and local tax burden in the nation as a percentage of income. That's an even heavier tax burden than citizens in the notoriously high-tax states of California and Massachusetts must carry! Also, our ranking this year is twice as bad as it was 20 years ago, when we ranked a much better 31st.
There might not be funds for public school classrooms but for 15 Kansas school districts there is money for financing lawsuits. Since the 1998-99 school year, $2,095,020 has been spent in public funds to pay for the school finance litigation and lawsuit.
From Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network
The Wall Street Journal's "Tony & Tacky" section mentioned one Kansas school district on the day the Kansas senate was debating the largest one-year state spending hike for public schools in this century and according to one legislator, in state history. The $127 million increase in state spending would be in addition to the current $2.7 billion the state is already spending. School districts in Kansas are already spending millions of dollars to lobby the legislature, promote student and school employee contacts to try and influence legislators, and sue the state over school finance. School superintendents, like Wichita's tax 'n spend Winston Brooks, have been busy at speaking appearances promoting public school spending growth in excess of $1.4 billion.
I received the following, which I thought was interesting, so I present it. I do not entirely understand the author's argument, so if anyone can help me understand, I would appreciate it.
Kansas Legislative Education And Research
827 SW TOPEKA BLVD TOPEKA, KS 66612
PHONE: 785 233 8765 EMAIL: ks email@example.com
Contact: Bob L. Corkins
Court sets Trap for Legislature
"The Kansas Constitution thus imposes a mandate that our educational system cannot be static or regressive...
"...there is substantial competent evidence, including the Augenblick & Myers study, establishing that a suitable education, as that term is defined by the legislature, is not being provided."
Here is an article from the Kansas Taxpayers Network that reports on school spending: http://www.kansastaxpayers.com/editorial_fedschool.html.
On Saturday February 12, 2005 I attended a meeting of the South Central Kansas Legislative Delegation. Lynn Rogers, USD 259 School Board President, and Connie Dietz, Vice-President of the same body, attended. There has been a proposal to spend an additional $415 million over the next three years on schools. Asked if this would be enough to meet their needs, the Wichita school board members replied, "No."