www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Policing a riot -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Evil strikes back -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Art appreciation -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Abuse of power -8/20/2014, 8:22 AM

Ferguson police arrest reporters for reporting -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Don't 'got milk' -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Another road map to success? -8/19/2014, 10:05 AM

It's the abuse of power, stupid -8/19/2014, 10:04 AM

Riots in Ferguson, and what they mean -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

One of billions -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

The GOP presents: Barack-nado -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Media and Missouri: What's going on? -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Answer the bell -8/15/2014, 8:58 AM

Get ready for denials -8/15/2014, 8:49 AM

Mental illness -8/15/2014, 8:49 AM

Mindless drones -8/14/2014, 9:27 AM

Can-do attitude -8/14/2014, 9:27 AM

'Poor door' -- a symbol of a truth we all know -8/13/2014, 9:19 AM

Eyeing the Ogallala Aquifer -8/13/2014, 9:19 AM

The slacker congress -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

CIA vs. Senate -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

The cannabis conundrum -- we against us -8/11/2014, 8:55 AM

The debate is over -8/11/2014, 8:54 AM

The 'Almost' Revolution -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

Is cross a history lesson or state religion? -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

Another downgrade -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

State economy plays critical role in the future of FHSU -8/10/2014, 2:09 PM

Building on past successes for a stronger future -8/10/2014, 2:09 PM

Will Palin's channel rival Comedy Central? -8/8/2014, 9:25 AM

Western anti-Semitism -8/8/2014, 9:25 AM

Patrolmen without borders -8/7/2014, 10:13 AM

Not a choice -8/7/2014, 10:12 AM

Ebola politics -8/7/2014, 10:12 AM

Too few voters -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

A special breed -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

A license to vote -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

Selfies in Auschwitz -- and why it's wrong -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

Election turnout -8/5/2014, 9:19 AM

Dairy's closing -8/5/2014, 9:19 AM

Concealing the Statehouse debate -8/5/2014, 9:18 AM

Beauty all around us -8/5/2014, 9:18 AM

Needing another senator -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Doing what he said -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Needing a new understanding of energy -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Do-nothing Congress -8/3/2014, 12:02 PM

Seeking the ultimate 'redress of grievances' -8/3/2014, 11:43 AM

Kansas values -8/3/2014, 11:43 AM

A candidate with morals, integrity -8/3/2014, 11:43 AM

Huelskamp deserves vote -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

One third of 1 percent makes difference -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

Vote for our future -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

Reaching a limit -8/3/2014, 11:42 AM

Please stop helping us -8/1/2014, 10:57 AM

Deadly double standards -8/1/2014, 10:57 AM

Huelskamp's attention to detail -8/1/2014, 10:57 AM

Surprise, surprise, surprise -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Medicaid expansion a win-win for Kansas -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Term limits are first step -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Vote for what's right -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

The next governor -7/31/2014, 10:12 AM

Shultz is the pick -7/31/2014, 10:11 AM

Eyeing the children -7/30/2014, 9:01 AM

Speak from the heart -7/30/2014, 9:01 AM

Changing attitudes -7/30/2014, 9:01 AM

Time to replace Huelskamp -7/30/2014, 9:00 AM

Water vision -7/29/2014, 9:48 AM

No longer a supporter -7/29/2014, 9:47 AM

The power of punctuation -7/29/2014, 9:47 AM

Running for the wrong bus -7/28/2014, 9:04 AM

Old Old Mexico -- Culture and content -7/28/2014, 9:03 AM

The defining issue of economic recovery -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

In a world of sectarian violence, what can be done? -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

Funding DHDC -7/27/2014, 1:18 PM

Endorsement for Shultz -7/25/2014, 3:28 PM

Against the wind -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Do blacks need favors? -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Vote Huelskamp out -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Open meetings -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Leadership change needed -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Vote for Huelskamp -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Protecting unborn children -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Learning experience valuable -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

False equivalence -7/23/2014, 8:07 AM

Measles' scary comeback -7/23/2014, 1:27 PM

The 'big data' deal -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

GOP can't get out of its own way -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

War only will add to Middle East problems -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Avoiding taxes -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Take the win in Iran -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

The high court's high-handedness -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

Up in arms in the Capitol -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Firefighters weigh in on pay raise -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Backpacks for Kids -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Our unwillingness to defend ourselves -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

Remembering a man who championed freedom -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

GOP split -7/17/2014, 8:38 AM

New Kansas senator -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Who'll build the roads? -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Time to retire -7/16/2014, 2:20 PM

Reagan: In or out? -7/16/2014, 2:45 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Suitable funding

Published on -1/15/2013, 10:50 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

When a three-judge panel ruled last week that the state of Kansas is not fulfilling its legal obligation to suitably finance public education, the reactions from various corners have been telling.

The governor's office, for example, said the ruling was not unexpected -- and that "the courts are drastically increasing the property tax burden on every Kansan."

The attorney general's office vowed to fight the ruling in court.

Top-ranking legislators in the House and Senate, both of which are now overwhelmingly conservative Republican, said they might put forth a constitutional amendment to clarify the roles of the various branches of government -- specifically that the Legislature sets fund levels, not the courts.

Those pleased to see the district court order the base state per pupil amount raised from $3,783 to $4,492 either work inside a school or for an entity supporting education employees, or are among the parents and school districts that lodged the complaint.

Any way you look at it, the state will need to come up with an additional $440 million in the next year in order to satisfy the judicial decree. Add that to the $267 million budget shortall already expected, and the state is close to three-quarters of a billion dollars in the hole. The session that began this week might prove more complicated than predicted -- even with like-minded majorities in both houses and a governor prepared to sign bills as soon as they hit his desk.

Rather than rush constitutional amendments through the process or wait until the 88th day of a 90-day session to decide the amount of base state aid, elected leaders would be better off attempting to bridge the chasm that exists regarding the interpretation of the Kansas Constitution. It holds: "The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state."

The judiciary branch obviously believes $3,783 per pupil is too low. Constitutionally too low. So do educators and parents who keep suing the state when legislators attempt to give schools less than they promised. It was lawmakers who came up with the $4,492 figure, not the courts.

Legislators and the governor believe their responsibility is met when they do the best possible given that year's revenue stream. And then proceeds to choke off revenues by slashing income taxes.

The court likely committed a faux pas by pointing this out. In the ruling, the judges wrote: "It appears to us that the only certain result of the tax cut will be further reduction of existing resources and from a cause, unlike the Great Recession which had a cause external to Kansas, that is home-spun, hence, self-inflicted ... While the Legislature has said that educational funding is a priority, the passage of the tax cut bill suggests otherwise."

While true, the court has in effect invited lawmakers to spend time finding ways to retaliate. Given the size of the budget hole, this is not where the Legislature should be focused.

Instead, it should be attempting to provide suitable provision for education without simply pushing costs down to the local level. The property tax reform of the 1990s resulted in the state picking up a larger share of education funding. The Legislature itself took the responsibility of ensuring that the education every Kansas child receives should not be dependent on the wealth of the district in which they live. That is something the child cannot control.

The state can control whether the taxation model is progressive or regressive. The "experiment" begun by Gov. Sam Brownback last year -- and expected to be furthered this year -- attempts to redistribute tax obligations from the rich and middle classes to the poor. This regressive approach might have hit a roadblock in the form of the judiciary branch.

Judges are supposed to rule on the constitutionality of laws legislators propose and the governor signs. The state and the nation were designed with such checks and balances. Elected officials would do well to keep their roles straight.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.