Movement on Education Funding, Regular Session Concludes
The first week of April, the Senate debated and passed Sub SB 423. It included our priorities for the next education funding formula in response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s October finding in Gannon v State that last year’s formula remained underfunded per the requirements in the Kansas Constitution(Article 6). The Court split the Gannon case in two parts – equity of funding across districts so similar effort would raise similar funding (property valuations and subsequent tax revenue to districts vary widely) and adequacy of funding to achieve expected outcomes.
Measuring the Cost of Adequacy
In the last 20 years, the legislature has commissioned external reviews and studies, as well as assigned audits to the Legislative Post Audit Division (the state’s internal, non-partisan audit arm). The results of these studies tend to sit on shelves until someone needs them for the sake of an argument – or a paperweight. Another such study was ordered in December to provide a guideline for outcomes-based funding to present to the court. In short, the study showed we are far behind meeting the adequate funding goal and certainly fall short of the suitability requirement in the constitution. The details of the newest study are below.
Keep in mind, the court declared the funding formula passed in 2005 in response to Montoy v. Kansas to be constitutional, and had the legislature maintained those funding levels, the Gannon plaintiffs would not have had a reason to file another suit.
House Action & Senate Obstructionism
The House also passed an education bill (HB 2445), but Senate leadership refused to bring it up for debate and a vote. Instead, they cobbled together a tax cut bill – less than a year after the bill to restore the disastrous 2012 tax cuts had gone into effect, and only months into what seems to be a slow-but-sure economic recovery as a result! Another word for what was going on was a filibuster – an attempt to run out the clock so a finance plan would not be passed.