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Gillam reports: "The court said it was 'illogical' for the state to argue that it could not adequately fund schools at the same time it slashed income taxes."

Kansas must increase its spending on education by about $400 million. (photo: Max Klingensmith/flickr)
Kansas must increase its spending on education by about $400 million. (photo: Max Klingensmith/flickr)

Judges: Kansas is Unconstitutionally Short-Changing Education

By Carey Gillam, Reuters

13 January 13


ansas is unconstitutionally short-changing its students by underfunding education needs and must increase spending by about $400 million, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously on Friday.

The court said it was "illogical" for the state to argue that it could not adequately fund schools at the same time it slashed income taxes.

The ruling is the latest in a series of court victories for a group of public school districts, parents and students in Kansas who have demanded for years that the state provide more money for education.

A funding plan was devised for Kansas in 2006 through a settlement of a prior lawsuit but the groups filed suit again in 2010 when the state made an estimated $300 million in funding cuts. The state made even more cuts in 2011. There have been $511 million in cuts to the base funding between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal 2012.

"This is just a wonderful victory for these school kids in Kansas," said lawyer John Robb, whose firm represents the plaintiffs in the case, which was filed in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, Kansas.

"The (state) constitution says they have rights to an adequately funded education," Robb said. "And the courts have said yes ... it means what it says."

Kansas is one of many U.S. states with Republican majority legislatures and governors who are arguing that tax cuts will encourage business and stimulate the economy while critics fear negative impacts on social services and education.

In the ruling, the court addressed that issue specifically, saying that it made no sense for the state to argue that its finances were tight and increasing education spending could have "disastrous consequences to the Kansas economy," while it was intentionally reducing revenues by cutting the state income tax.

"It seems completely illogical that the state can argue that a reduction in education funding was necessitated by the downturn in the economy and the state's diminishing resources and at the same time cut taxes further," the court said.

Governor Sam Brownback, a Republican who has advocated for the tax cuts, said he ruling was "disappointing but not unexpected."

He said school funding should be up to lawmakers, not courts.

"Through today's ruling, the courts are drastically increasing the property tax burden on every Kansan," Brownback said in a statement. "The legislative process is the appropriate venue for debating and resolving issues of taxation and spending."

Democrats have criticized Brownback for presiding over roughly $500 million in cuts to public education since 2011.

The ruling means that the state must provide at least $4,492 per pupil for the roughly 600,000 students, up from $3,838 per student.

Dave Trabert, president of the conservative public policy advocacy group Kansas Policy Institute, criticized the ruling, saying the increase ordered in funding will force a tax hike.

"It costs a lot of money to operate our schools, but it's how the money is spent that matters, not simply how much," Trabert said.

This week, the publication Education Week gave the state of Kansas a "C" grade for its education system, funding and achievement. your social media marketing partner


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+31 # Willman 2013-01-13 19:05
What better way to keep Kansas as a red state than through inadequate educational opportunities.
In plain english "keep them down on the farm" and vote straight republican and don't ask questions.
+28 # BobbyLip 2013-01-14 00:06
The Repugnicans know that an educated electorate will eventually mean their doom.
+17 # BeaDeeBunker 2013-01-14 02:25
Just another example of that wonderful question, "What's the matter with Kansas?"
+23 # Pancho 2013-01-14 04:00
Brownback and his Republican legislative stooges eliminated taxes for those filing as "S" Corporations. The billionaire Koch brothers file as an "S" corp, so Charles de Ganahl Koch, who makes about $3 billion a year, doesn't have to pay any state income tax. Brownback's purpose was to move the taxes to small property owners who are unable to afford to elect dozens of state legislators in Kansas as the Kochs have done.

Brownback got his funding to win his first big election, for the U.S. Senate in 1996, laundered through the Triad Corporation by the Kochs.

Dave Trabert of KPI (really the Koch Policy Institute) is nothing more than a lying Koch 'ho.' His is but one of the hundred or so bogus "think tanks" arrayed around the U.S. to lobby and produce propaganda for the Kochs.

You could look it up!
+6 # AMLLLLL 2013-01-14 13:43
The Koch's, another "small business", are who the GOP are really protecting when they whine about raising taxes on those poor struggling 'small business owners'. We're supposed to picture the mom'n pop corner store, but the top .1% benefit. Koch's also donate to universities, but only if they approve certain educators to be hired....
+10 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-01-14 09:59
I remember when Brownback was the folk name for to a small bloodsucking insect found in unclean beds.
+7 # lhbaker 2013-01-14 13:56
Can this be a surprise to anyone who remembers when Kansas mandated that creationism be taught alongside evolution in the public schools? Those students are now state legislators.
+4 # kip 2013-01-14 14:19
Never forget that it was "Brown vs The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas" that ended "seperate but equal" schools. I lived in Kansas in the 1960's and it was a good place to live...what has happened??

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