- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Latest on the Kansas Supreme Court decision to toss the state’s stopgap school funding law (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is describing the state Supreme Court as an activist court for threatening to shut down public schools if legislators don’t write a new school funding law.

Brownback was responding to the court’s ruling Thursday striking down a school funding law enacted last year. The court said the law was unfair to poor districts and shorted their state aid by at least $54 million.

The court declared that schools will shut down if a new law isn’t enacted by the end of June.

Brownback said in a statement, “We will review this decision closely and work with the Legislature to ensure the continued success of our great Kansas schools.”



Two Republican lawmakers are accusing the Kansas Supreme Court of trying to hold taxpayers and schoolchildren hostage with a ruling striking down an education funding law.

House Speaker Ray Merrick of Stillwell and state Sen. Jeff Melcher of Leawood decried the court’s ruling Thursday.

The court said the school funding law was unfair to poor districts and shorted their annual aid at least $54 million. The justices said if lawmakers don’t rewrite the law by June 30, the state’s schools must shut down.

Melcher called the decision “a temper tantrum.”

He said, “It’s kind of one of those things, ‘Give us the money, or the kid gets it.’”

Merrick told reporters that the timing of the ruling was fishy. It came just before the House voted on budget legislation.


11:45 a.m.

A Democratic lawmaker has failed to delay a vote in the Kansas House on budget legislation following a Kansas Supreme Court decision invalidating a school funding law.

Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita said the House should have delayed the vote on the budget bill to allow legislators to react to the ruling. The Supreme Court said the law shorted poor school districts on their annual state aid by at least $54 million.

But the House voted 95-27 against his request to delay the vote.

It then passed the budget bill 68-56, sending it to the Senate.

The measure makes dozens of changes in the state’s $16.1 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to eliminate a deficit projected at nearly $200 million.


10:50 a.m.

The leader of a conservative Kansas think tank and an attorney representing four school districts that sued the state disagree over the effects of Thursday’s Kansas Supreme Court ruling on education funding.

The court invalidated a school funding law enacted last year, saying it violated the Kansas Constitution and was unfair to poor school districts. The court said the law left poor districts $54 million short in their aid for the 2014-15 school year.

Dave Trabert is president of the influential and conservative Kansas Policy Institute. He says the ruling means the state can find a fairer way to distribute more than $4 billion a year in aid without increasing its overall spending.

But attorney John Robb, who’s representing the districts suing the state, says the court specifically said that shifting aid around isn’t sufficient.


10:15 a.m.

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling striking down the state’s law for funding its public schools says those schools won’t be able to open in the fall if legislators don’t write a new statute.

The high court’s ruling Thursday gave legislators until June 30 to enact a new law for distributing more than $4 billion a year in aid to the state’s 286 local school districts.

The justices said the law enacted last year is unfair to poor school districts and left them $54 million short in aid for the 2014-15 school year.

The court said in its unsigned opinion: “Without a constitutionally equitable school finance system, the schools in Kansas will be unable to operate beyond June 30.”


10 a.m.

The Kansas Supreme Court has struck down a stopgap law for funding the state’s public schools, saying it left poor districts $54 million short.

The justices ruled Thursday that the Republican-backed law enacted last year doesn’t comply with the Kansas Constitution. The court gave lawmakers until the end of June to write a new law.

The ruling came in a lawsuit that four districts have been pursuing since 2010. The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the larger question of whether Kansas must boost its education spending by at least $548 million a year.

Lawmakers approved the 2015 law as temporary fix. The law replaced a per-student formula for distributing more than $4 billion a year to school in favor of stable “block grants.”


9 a.m.

The Kansas Supreme Court is preparing to decide whether a law that overhauled funding for public schools last year violates the Kansas Constitution.

The high court said it would issue its ruling Thursday morning. A decision against the cash-strapped state could come with an order to boost aid to schools immediately by $54 million.

Four school districts are challenging the 2015 school funding law.

Republican legislators junked the state’s old per-pupil formula for distributing more than $4 billion in aid a year in favor of steady “block grants.” The law also took back some of the increased aid districts expected to receive for the 2014-15 school year.

The court has said previously that the Kansas Constitution requires the state to ensure that all students receive a suitable education.



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