September 23, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Republican Legislative Leaders Call Court Disrespectful of Legislative Process

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Kansas Senate leadership is drawing a line in the sand. Sen. President Susan Wagle, Vice President Jeff Longbine and Majority Leader Jim Denning responding to a Kansas Supreme Court opinion with a joint statement saying raising taxes to increase school funding is unrealistic.

“It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court failed to allow this new school finance formula, which includes substantially increased funding, to be in effect for a full school year before passing swift judgment,” the statement begins.

Lawmakers have until April 30 to craft a new school financing formula. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled legislators’ latest school finance mechanism doesn’t adequately calculate funding.

The Court ruled a school financing formula passed last May unconstitutional. Justices gave lawmakers through April 30, 2018, to craft a formula that adequately calculates an equitable financing formula. Three members of the Court dissented from giving the legislature several months to draft a new formula.

Senate leadership called the decision disrespectful of the legislative process.

“As promised, Senate Republicans remain committed to providing every Kansas student with an exceptional education, however, raising taxes to fund this unrealistic demand is not going to happen,” the statement reads.

Denning and Longbine voted for the largest tax increase in Kansas history last June. They also voted to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of the legislation to retroactively increase income tax rates to the tune of $1.2 billion. Wagle voted against the original tax increase bill and the veto override that allowed it to become law. Lawmakers used some of the tax increase to add $294 million to school funding via a new financing mechanism.

The Supreme Court ruled the new financing isn’t adequately calculated. Justices also said the formula does not meet equity requirements.

Brownback called the Court’s decision “another regrettable chapter in the never ending cycle of litigation over Kansas school funding.”

“The court should not substitute its decision for that of the legislature,” the Governor said in a statement.

The Court ruling gave lawmakers an April 30, 2018, deadline to craft a new school finance formula. The Court will rule on the constitutionality of the legislative remedy by June 30, 2018.





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