Skip to comments.Kansas Supreme Court Usurps Legislature’s Authority
Posted on 03/21/2014 1:59:31 PM PDT by ThethoughtsofGreg
n most states, elected officials, usually state legislators, are responsible for assessing what education funding in the state should be and will be. Recently, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that in fact, the judicial branch has jurisdiction over this crucial area of the budget. Although the Court didnt answer the broad question of what constitutes the adequate school funding requirement in the Kansas State Constitution, it did say that lawmakers must fund schools equally. And while this ruling will have some impact on present school funding formulas, the Court made sure to clarify that it has jurisdiction over what counts as adequate school funding.
The question of What is adequate school funding? will most likely be decided by the Court in a more specific way at some point in the future.
Judges in state courts across the country have been using their position to second guess the decisions of elected state legislators and force them to appropriate more for educational spending. This has sometimes resulted in unforeseen budget deficits or even tax increases to sufficiently meet the spending requirements set by state courts. A 2007 study from Chris Atkins of the Tax Foundation notes that from 1977 to 2007 a total of 27 states have been forced to increase education spending beyond what they had originally appropriated; resulting in an additional expenditure of $34 billion total (in 2004 dollars). Of those 27 states, 9 states explicitly raised taxes, in some cases without even a public or legislative vote, to pay for the court mandated spending.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanlegislator.org ...
The money was raised, and a Taj Mahal type building program was set in motion.
That's pretty much the last I heard of it. This all went down in the mid-1990s. The situation has been dropped into the memory hole, and I assume that's because the results weren't all that inspirational. I know, I'm too cynical.
I’m going to guess they base this on a state constitutional requirement for everyone to be afforded an education
The Judge continued to raise taxes to support a gold plated school program in Kansas City, including taxes on surrounding Missouri counties who got none of the money. When he was finished, the schools were a complete, corrupt mess and have now lost their accreditation.
All the people in the surrounding Missouri counties moved to Johnson County, Kansas to avoid the taxes and then elected Kathleen Sebelius as Governor who proceeded to appoint liberals to the Kansas Supreme Court so that they could raise taxes without voter approval. See how it works.
You know, that’s kind of what I guessed, although my imagination wasn’t as nuts as the reality you describe.
“This is really nothing new.... a federal judge ordered Kansas City to raise property taxes to fund new school construction and many other expenses to address what the Court saw as years of segregation against that city’s African American community.
...The money was raised, and a Taj Mahal type building program was set in motion.
That’s pretty much the last I heard of it. This all went down in the mid-1990s. The situation has been dropped into the memory hole, and I assume that’s because the results weren’t all that inspirational....”
Depending upon who is using a Taj Mahal, it can be turned into a cesspool. That may well be what happened. No amount of money will change a sow’s ear into gold.
I’m reading the article that’s sourced by American Legislator and I think American Legislator is using a bit of hyperbole here. According to the ruling, the Kansas SC ruled that all schools must be funded equally and to make up the gap. An alternative to making up the gap is to lower the funding for the richer counties; that would be subject to judicial review, but that would be equitable.
Are richer counties getting more government money for education? Can anyone from Kansas shed some light on this?
Ya know, I really kind of tire of this analysis because people usually pick and choose the decisions they effectively want to call “judicial activism”.
That is EXACTLY what Courts are supposed to do. It’s how we set up the system. It is rare considering the number of cases, but laws can never, ever violate a State’s or the Fed’s Constitution. That is just the way it is. Now the decisions may suck, but that’s not the point. In fact, we applaud “judicial activism” if we like it. (VRA anyone?)
So cherry picking gets us absolutely nowhere. Vote the right people in. Pass laws that pass Constitutional muster AND get what you want. (Why COPA failed so miserably). Because what happens is that legislatures will pass laws that will help them get re-elected NOT that will help the people. Usually a few small tweeks and you still get what you want.
But in a Republic the majority does not always rule nor should it. It does about 99% of the time, but you don’t want it to 100%
As long as we just pick and choose decisions we like don’t like and call just one set “judicial activism” then we get nowhere.
In an ironic twist, we taxpayers in Kansas get to pay for attorneys and consultants to do studies on behalf of the school districts (which don’t have to itemize their budgets and presumably could spend their entire budget on this lobbying activity)...and they go to the unelected court to circumvent the will of we the people.
Awesome, isn’t it - we pay to force the legislature to tax us more.
The Kansas City School District is a complete failure, hasn’t been accredited in years
these entitled moms in Johnson County demand this and that stupid program for their students and then march on Topeka and it needs to stop
I take it you don’t live in Kansas.
Our state constitution says each person is supposed to get an adequate education, or some similar term.
So the devil is in the details. What constitutes adequate? Well the judges have decided which side’s study to believe...and they most certainly did use activism in that decision.
These studies are talking about classroom sizes, and special programs for ‘at risk’ students (ie students with irresponsible parents). Its not like we’ve got a bunch of one room schoolhouses here. The education is ‘adequate’ in every way. I imagine the writers of the state constitution would marvel at how incredibly adequate it is...probably beyond their wildest expectations.
But the judges don’t think so. They have formed a very different opinion of what the framers thought was adequate - because they are activists.
Courts ordering the legislature to raise taxes is not how the system is supposed to work.
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