Politics & Government

Capitol beats: School funding version

School funding version

Check this spot on Sundays for a few quick hits about what’s driving the debate in the Legislature.

This week’s edition focuses on the Supreme Court’s ruling on school funding, which is likely to reverberate throughout the session.

Say what?

“We got the decision at 9:30 this morning. To ask me or the president of the Senate what our game plan is going to be is kind of premature.”

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, responding to a question about how legislative leaders plan to address the inequalities in school funding identified by the Supreme Court in the Gannon decision released Friday

“I think the people of Kansas want the Legislature to stop playing games with this and want the governor to stop making excuses.”

House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, on whether a bipartisan solution on school finance equity can be reached before a July 1 court deadline

$129 million

That’s the amount school advocates say would address inequalities between districts that the court identified in capital outlay and local option budget funds. Republican leaders say the court did not mandate a specific amount.


#Gannon. The Supreme Court issued a decision in Gannon v. State of Kansas, a case that reviewed the adequacy of school funding. The court found inequalities in school funding but decided to put off the bigger question of adequacy.

Both sides declared partial victory. School advocates saw the decision as a mandate for the Legislature to provide more money to struggling districts. But Republican leaders say no dollar figure is required by the court’s order that the Legislature fix inequity. In addition, Republicans say the ruling affirmed that outcomes must be considered when weighing the adequacy of school funding.

News ahead

This issue will dominate the rest of the legislative session, leaders of both parties say. The Legislature faces a July 1 deadline to fix disparities between wealthier and poorer districts to the satisfaction of a three-judge panel or it could face court injunctions. Also, the larger question of whether the state adequately funds schools was sent back to the district court for further review. In many ways, the long-awaited Gannon decision is just the beginning.

Bryan Lowry