July 13, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Court rejects Kelly’s request to file school finance brief

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The Kansas Supreme Court denied Gov. Laura Kelly’s request to file an amicus brief in the on-going school financing lawsuit yesterday. The Court rejected Kelly’s request, noting amicus briefs must be filed 30 days prior to oral arguments, scheduled for May 9. 

Kelly missed the deadline. Today, the Kansas State Board of Education asked the Court for permission to file its own amicus brief. Attorneys for the board argue that the legislature didn’t approve the school financing until April 5. The Governor signed it on April 6, and the 10 elected members of the state board of education didn’t meet until April 16.

The legislation lawmakers adopted to address the Court’s last Gannon decision closely mirrors Kelly’s school financing proposal offered in her budget, and the state board of education unanimously agreed to make a request seeking to file a brief in support of the legislation.

“The state board supports the constitutionality of the school funding plan enacted during the 2019 legislative session,” the state board’s request to the Court reads.

The state board is seeking permission to file its legal brief by April 24, and board attorneys have sought the consent of the plaintiffs and defendant in the case. In its brief, the board proposes allowing responses to its brief be filed no later than April 25.

Arguments from Schools for Fair Funding, the plaintiffs, and from the defendants, the state of Kansas, were due on April 15. 

The Kansas Attorney General’s office filed a brief requesting that a new financing scheme lawmakers adopted last month complies with the Court’s decision that required the state to account for inflation in its school financing formula.

“The State has now achieved constitutional compliance, and this Court should dismiss this lawsuit,” the State’s brief reads.

Originally filed eight years ago, before Sam Brownback was elected governor, the Court originally ruled that public school funding was inadequate. The AG’s brief says the Legislature has worked in good faith in response to the Court’s decision, increasing school funding by almost $1 billion.

“Any evidence relevant to the issues in this case has long gone stale, and no longer reflects the current state of K-12 schools,” the state’s brief reads.

Lawmakers approved legislation last year adding more than $500 million in additional school funding, and they adopted legislation this year to add another $90 million per year to account for inflation over the next four years.

Schools for Fair Funding attorneys, however, argued via brief that Senate Bill 16’s $360 million over four years funds only one-quarter of the amount necessary to comply with the Court’s earlier Gannon decision. This differs from the argument these same attorneys made earlier in the 2019 legislation session while testifying on similar legislation

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