The Kansas Supreme Court ruled for the twelfth time since 2003 that the State of Kansas has failed to “make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state” as required by Article 6, Section 6 of the Kansas Constitution. While there are Republican legislators eager to attack the integrity of our state Supreme Court justices, such a tactic is short-sighted and unproductive.
On March 2, 2017, the Court clearly instructed the Kansas Legislature to implement a constitutional school finance formula that was both adequate and equitable, meaning sufficient school funding and reasonably equal access to that funding. The Court also admonished the Legislature to “show its work” in order to justify the decisions it made in crafting this formula. Their admonition was something the Legislature should have taken seriously. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
The Gannon trial record contained 662 exhibits totaling 18,727 pages and 3,673 pages of transcript testimony. The Republican leadership hired and paid a Legislative Counsel $65,000 to help us “show our work” and defend our decisions in court. This ultimately resulted in the production of a legal brief from the Legislative Counsel attempting to defend the Legislature’s action. This brief was wholly insufficient and underscored the fact that the Legislature’s final product, Senate Bill 19, was a result of political posturing, not facts and data.
So, who is to blame? Certainly not the Kansas Supreme Court. They are merely doing their job as a co-equal branch of government. The blame belongs to those who promoted the passage of Senate Bill 19. Now is the time to put politics aside and begin work immediately to craft a constitutional school finance formula and create a legislative record that demonstrates our final product is based on sound decisions, not politics. Otherwise, the Legislature is choosing to ignore its constitutional duty and will be the cause of a statewide school shutdown.
It’s time to do the right thing for the children of Kansas.
Lauren Tice Miller
Kansas Senate Democratic Leader