Atty. General argues funding adequate; schools say math doesn't add up

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Attorney General Derek Schmidt told the Supreme Court the new education funding bill adequately pays for Kansas schools and urged the Justices to dismiss the long-running lawsuit over the issue.

Schmidt's office filed its brief Monday in the latest round of the Gannon case. Justices ruled in 2014 that the state did not meet its constitutional obligation to fund public schools. Lawmakers later made changes that satisfied the Court's concern about how equitably that funding was distributed.

But in their own response, attorneys for the districts suing the state say lawmakers have not met their burden. They want the Court to order additional funding, and keep the case open another year to monitor the legislature's actions.

In their brief Monday, state attorneys argued the bill signed by Governor Laura Kelly gives the schools enough money. It adds approximately $90 million a year - for a total of $363 million more over four years - to address the Justices' concerns about inflation.

The state added that evidence raised in the initial arguments when the case was filed in district court in 2012 no longer reflects the current state of K-12 schools.

The school districts involved in the lawsuit contend the state is not doing the math to satisfy the Court's concerns to account for inflation. They say, to do that, funding should increase by greater amounts each year. Rather than the same $90 million each year for four years, but $90 million more than the year before, meaning a $360 million increase in the final year.

Schmidt says the support for the measure from people on both sides of the aisle, including Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, the GOP-controlled legislature, and the State Board of Education, show a widespread belief that it complies with the Court's order, and he urged the justices not to grant the districts what he termed a "heckler's veto."

“This court should give great weight to the considered decisions of both the education officials and the people’s representatives,” Schmidt’s written argument said. “That is particularly true here given the widespread, bipartisan consensus.”

Oral arguments in the case are set for May 9th. The Court set a June 30th deadline for the state to comply with its prior ruling.