Kansas Supreme Court rejects latest school finance formula

Oct. 2, 2017
The legislation was an attempt to address constitutional deficiencies that the court identified earlier this year.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s new school finance system violates the Kansas Constitution.

The Kansas City Star reports that the court decided that the legislature's funding for public schools had failed to meet the adequacy and equity requirements of the state Constitution.

The decision sends the issue back to the legislature to remedy. The justices did not state a specific dollar amount that needs to be added to the funding formula for it to reach constitutional muster.

Lawmakers struggled to pass a revised school finance formula during their 2017 session. A March ruling from the Supreme Court said the legislature had failed to ensure adequate funding for public schools.

The Senate and the House passed a new the formula late in the session, but it came over vocal objections from some Democrats about the level of funding in the bill. Attempts to pump more money into the formula failed.

The legal team for the school districts suing the state contended in an earlier court filing that the “the lowest estimate of what it costs to constitutionally fund an education to Kansas K-12 public school students is … $893 million over the next two years.”

The new formula adds a net of roughly $488 million over two years, pays for all-day kindergarten and adds early childhood funding.

The school finance overhaul became law around the same time Kansas lawmakers agreed to roll back Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts and increase tax revenue by an estimated $1.2 billion over two years.

That tax increase was seen as playing a key role in helping the state pay for the additional money in the aid formula.

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