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School-finance lawsuit hangs over 2014 legislative session

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By Dion Lefler and Bryan Lowry
The Wichita Eagle
Published Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, at 6:51 a.m.
Updated Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at 7:12 a.m.

Depending on what the court decides, the outcome could be anything from more money for schools to a constitutional showdown over the balance of power between the courts and the Legislature.

Although they use different metaphors, Democrats and Republicans alike say the school ruling, whenever it comes, will influence just about everything that happens under the dome this election year.

5 things to know about Kansas legislative session

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SCHOOL FINANCE RULING: Legislators are waiting on a decision from the Kansas Supreme Court over school funding. Attorneys for the plaintiff parents and school districts say lawmakers failed to fulfill promises made in 2006 to adequately fund schools. The state says no actual harm has been done to students by education cuts and that the state did its best to fund schools in the wake of the Great Recession. A ruling either way will have significant consequences. If the plaintiffs prevail, the state may be forced to take money away from other programs or initiatives — such as income tax cuts — to pay for schools. Some Republican lawmakers say they’re prepared to defy such a ruling.

Kansas Lawmakers Await Court Ruling on School Funding

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State May Have to Increase Funding for K-12 Education by 14%



Updated Jan. 12, 2014 7:51 p.m. ET

After passing some of the most aggressive tax cuts in the nation, Kansas lawmakers are watching the state’s top court for a ruling that could force education spending to skyrocket.

The Kansas Supreme Court will determine whether the state must comply with a lower-court ruling requiring the GOP-led legislature and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback to increase annual funding for K-12 education by an estimated $450 million, or 14% above the previous year’s level. The timing of the ruling is unclear, but it could come to dominate the state legislative session that opens Monday.

Write to Mark Peters at

School funding case holds the key for Kansas

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January 10
The Kansas City Star

The direction of Kansas school funding hinges on a single word.

What is “suitable” state support for local schools?

 The Kansas Supreme Court is pondering a case that turns on the state constitutional mandate to “make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.”
 Its ruling, which could come any day, will focus on whether the Kansas Legislature reneged on a promise made eight years ago to pump up aid to public classrooms and live up to the Kansas Constitution.
 Read more here:

KS Supreme Court ruling on school finance could have national implications

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Wichita Business Journal

Josh Heck – Reporter

The rest of the country is watching to see how the Kansas Supreme Court will rule on a case involving the state’s Legislature’s allocations for public schools.

Kansas is one of dozens of states where lawsuits are challenging the amount of funding public schools receive.

And as a New York Times Op-Ed piece this week points out, what happens with the Kansas Supreme Court could have national implications.

The concern is that if the Kansas Supreme Court rules that the state has adequately funded public schools there could be a ripple effect, and school funding may be reduced in other states.

The New York Times piece says that 11 states, Kansas, New York, Florida, Texas and California among them, have pending litigation involving school funding.

Bill Moyers What Matters Today

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” Budgets are a reflection of priorities, and it’s worth noting that some states are taking a very different approach. This week, California Governor Jerry Brown proposed increasing spending on pre-K education by $22 billion over the state’s 2011-2012 budget.  According to the Los Angeles Times, “schools that serve low-income students and non-native English speakers will receive more money under the formula… Under Brown’s plan, LAUSD would see its per-pupil funding jump from about $7,700 per student per year to $12,750 by the end of the decade.”

What’s the Matter With Kansas’ Schools?

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New York Times Opinion – KANSAS, like every state, explicitly guarantees a free public education in its Constitution, affirming America’s founding belief that only an educated citizenry can preserve democracy and safeguard individual liberty and freedom.

And yet in recent years Kansas has become the epicenter of a new battle over the states’ obligation to adequately fund public education. Even though the state Constitution requires that it make “suitable provision” for financing public education, Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican-led Legislature have made draconian cuts in school spending, leading to a lawsuit that now sits before the state Supreme Court.