Decision made in state school funding lawsuit

Kansas Supreme Court (KSN photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the new school funding law is unconstitutional.

The court said the 2017 legislature’s new school finance law violated the adequacy and equity requirements of Article 6 of the Constitution which imposes a duty on the legislature to “make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” The court withheld any remedial action to give the legislature an opportunity to bring the school finance system into constitutional compliance. This is the court’s fifth decision in this lawsuit.

Governor Sam Brownback said Monday, “We are looking at the decision and will have further comment upon full review.”

In July, justices heard arguments from attorneys about the new school finance measure signed into law in June but appeared skeptical that the funding plan offered enough money to provide a suitable education for children statewide.

That law phases in a $292.5 million increase in education funding over two years. The justices ruled in March that the state’s then-$4 billion a year in aid to its 286 school districts was inadequate.

The court has ruled previously that the state constitution requires legislators to finance a suitable education for every child. In past hearings, justices have aggressively questioned attorneys on both sides but have not been shy about challenging the state’s arguments.

Lawyers for the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, school districts have argued that lawmakers fell at least $600 million short of adequately funding schools over two years. They also question whether the state can sustain the spending promised by the new law, even with an income tax increase enacted this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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