Schmidt defends 'massive' school funding increase; plaintiffs call it $500M short

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, middle, talks with former Senator Jeff King, left, and Solicitor General Stephen McAllister, right, during a recess of the Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka, Kan., Tuesday, July 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt argues in a new court filing that the state's new education funding law provides a "massive" increase in spending on public schools.

But, in their own brief filed with the Kansas Supreme Court Monday, the plaintiff's lawyers contend the latest increase is not enough.

Schmidt's written defense of the law, also filed Monday, included almost 1,300 pages of supporting documents. The court has scheduled a May 22 hearing for oral arguments on whether the new law provides adequate funding.

(Read full filings)

Schmidt's filing said the law phases in a $548 million increase over five years. The Supreme Court ruled in October that the current funding of more than $4 billion a year isn't sufficient under the state constitution.

The lawyers representing the school districts say that increase still won't meet constitutional requirements and argue lawmakers need to come up with another $506 million for Kansas schools for the coming school year. They urged the Justices to uphold their June 30 deadline and force the legislature to inject the additional funds by then.

In his brief, Schmidt had requested - in the event the Court found the latest measure unconstitutional - they allow the state another year to implement a fix in order to give lawmakers a chance to address the decision during their normal session.

Beyond the additional half-billion next year, the districts want an infusion of an additional $1.786 - $2.067 billion, plus increases that keep in line with the Consumer Price Index.

The filings come on the same day Gov. Jeff Colyer signed a bill fixing a flaw in the law that otherwise would have shorted schools $80 million of the $548 million intended.