Kansas Supreme Court

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Four former governors have banded together to “Save Kansas” from Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters.

In a letter circulated Friday, former Govs. Kathleen Sebelius, Bill Graves, Mike Hayden and John Carlin urged Kansas Democrats, Republicans and Independents to band together “to regain our fiscal health and stop the calculated destruction of our revenue stream and our educational, healthcare, and transportation systems.

KHI News Service

The Vice President of the Kansas Senate says the special session set to gavel in on Thursday will probably stretch into early next week. That would move the Legislature even closer to a June 30 school shutdown deadline, and make the session longer than Gov. Sam Brownback suggested it would take to fix the inequity that exists between rich and poor school districts in Kansas.

“We’re probably looking at more like three to five days if all goes well,” Sen. Jeff King from Independence said on KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Johnson County superintendents and local chambers of commerce are asking for a return to Kansas's old school funding formula and for a provision that would “hold all districts harmless.”

The Kansas Supreme Court has given lawmakers until June 30 to come up with an equitable funding formula or risk closure of the state’s schools. As it stands, Blue Valley, De Soto, Gardner-Edgerton, Olathe and Shawnee Mission will lose money under state lawmakers’ plan to equalize funding.

Claire Banderas / KCUR

The Kansas Legislature is preparing to go into special session to remedy a school funding formula that the Kansas Supreme Court ruled is unconstitutional. The court told the Legislature they have until June 30 to remedy the formula, or schools will be closed

Lawmakers and the state Supreme Court face off over school funding, every single seat in the state legislature is up for grabs, and the budget is millions of dollars in the red. It may sound like the plot of a political thriller but the battle for control of the Kansas Statehouse is real, and things are heating up.

Guests:

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas tax collections for May fell short of projections by about $74 million, and legislators said Wednesday they fear that will mean more cuts to Medicaid.

The May shortfall comes despite the state’s revenue estimating group revising projections downward for the third consecutive time about six weeks ago.

It wipes out the meager savings Gov. Sam Brownback created when he made cuts two weeks ago after the Legislature sent him a budget that didn’t balance.

AP Pool Photo
AP Pool Photo

The Kansas Supreme Court has handed down its decision in the long-awaited Gannon school funding case, and it comes as no surprise to those who have followed its many twists and turns.   

“This case requires us to determine whether the State has met its burden to show that recent legislation brings the State's K-12 public school funding system into compliance with Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution,” the court wrote in an opinion not attributable to any individual judge. “We hold it has not.”

AP pool photo

The Senate race in Kansas isn't expected to be competitive and the governor isn't on the ballot this fall. So, the hardest fought statewide campaign might just involve four people you’ve never heard of.

For the first time ever there will be a coordinated effort to oust state Supreme Court justices.

The bad blood between the state Supreme Court and conservatives in Kansas goes back ten years to when the justices ordered the state to pump more than $500 million dollars more into public education.

AP pool photo

After two and a half hours of oral arguments, the Kansas Supreme Court will now decide whether the state Legislature has solved — in the least — the equity portion of school funding and whether schools will remain open past a June 30 court imposed deadline.

Stephan Koranda / KPR

The final paperwork has been filed, and now Kansas educators and lawmakers await the May 10 showdown in the state Supreme Court over whether the state is equitably funding public education.

In a 208 page brief filed today with the Court, the plaintiff districts, including Kansas City, Kansas, say the bill passed in the Legislature's waning days does nothing more than move money around the system, could widen the gap between rich and poor districts, calling the whole attempt a "shell game".

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Before the Kansas Legislature went on spring break last month, a Senate committee pushed forward a bill that would expand the grounds for impeachment of Supreme Court justices. The controversial legislation says that justices could be impeached for "attempting to usurp the the power of the legislative or judicial branch of government."

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a bill that would expand the grounds for impeaching a state Supreme Court justice.

The bill says justices could be impeached for trying to exercise powers given to the governor or Legislature. Republican Sen. Forrest Knox says checks and balances in government are important.

"We have arrived at a point today in this country, in this state, where specifically Supreme Court justices have become kings, where there is no check," says Knox.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Supreme Court says the state is not funding public schools fairly and has given the legislature until the end of June to fix the problem. If lawmakers don’t comply, the high court threatens to close public schools.

Republican Sen. Jeff Melcher criticized Thursday’s ruling.

“It’s not unexpected. It’s essentially a temper tantrum by the courts to push their political will on the Legislature," Melcher said. "It’s one of those things where ‘give us the money or the kid gets it,’”

A momentous decision from the Kansas Supreme Court came down this morning. It says block-grant funding is unconstitutional and also indicates that if the state can’t find a ‘constitutionally equitable’ way to fund public schools, then they will shut down June 30. Hear first reactions from school officials and Kansas residents.

Guests:

File photo

In a ruling that has Kansas educators cheering, the state Supreme Court has upheld a district court panel ruling that block grant school funding is unconstitutional.

In a near unanimous ruling, the justices said the state is not meeting its equity burden under the state Constitution, which mandates that Kansas children have a right to an equal education whether they live in a poor or rich district.

The justices, as they have historically done, did not order the Legislature to spend a specific amount to fix the equity issue.

Kansas courts are staying open. At least, that’s what it looks like now that Kansas lawmakers have sent a bill to Governor Brownback to repeal the portion of a statute de-funding the judiciary. On another front, lawmakers failed to pass a bill that would change how Supreme Court judges are picked.

Guests:

Joe Gratz / Flickr--CC

Kansas House and Senate committees moved quickly Thursday to keep funding intact for the state's courts.

Lawmakers last year tied the judicial budget to another bill changing how chief judges are selected in Kansas judicial districts. When that law was struck down, it also invalidated the court budget, threatening to shut down the court system.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that would reinstate the court funding. 

Credit Patrick McKay / Flickr -- CC

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to hear the appeal of a group of Shawnee Mission parents who want limits lifted on how much local school districts can raise in local taxes.

However, this is not the end of the court case.

The high court refused the case, called Petrella, without comment.

The parents sued the state five years ago arguing that if patrons want to tax themselves more to pay for schools, the state shouldn’t be allowed to stop them. Kansas law caps how much local school districts can spend in local property taxes.

It is still unknown what the impact of the landmark Gannon school finance case will be, since the Kansas Supreme Court won't ultimately decide on it until sometime next year. 

What is clearer now, though, is the state's stance on what role the Court should play in determining funding for Kansas public education. In short, the state thinks the Court has no role. Briefs filed in Gannon Monday by the state essentially tell the Court to stay out of its legislative business. 

Patrick McKay / Flickr -- CC

While the Gannon school funding case now before the Kansas Supreme Court has garnered most of the attention, there's another school finance case out there and that one has gone all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case, known as Petrella, was filed by parents in the Shawnee Mission School District in 2010 against the state. The parents argue the district should be able to raise unlimited local tax money to pay for education. The state right now caps how much money can be spent locally as a way to equalize education for all Kansas kids.

Kansas Supreme Court

While public schools in Kansas deal with frozen budgets and lawmakers prepare for another session dominated by fights over school funding, there is a small group of people profiting: lawyers representing the state and school districts in the case now before thes Kansas Supreme Court.

The Gannon case was filed in 2010 and since then both sides have incurred a total of more than $5.5 million in attorney fees, as well as travel, expert witness and lobbying costs.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, reporters work with a law professor to make sense of The Gannon v. Kansas school finance lawsuit, and speculate on the outcomes and consequences of that case.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

Gannon V. Kansas

Nov 7, 2015
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

On this week's Statehouse Blend, reporters work with a law professor to make sense of The Gannon v. Kansas school finance lawsuit, and speculate on the outcomes and consequences of that case.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

No matter how deep in the weeds you go on the current school funding case before the Kansas Supreme Court; whether you're talking assessed valuation per pupil (AVPP) or local option budget (LOB) the case seems to come back to block grant funding passed last session by the Legislature.

Kansas Supreme Court

On Friday morning, the Kansas Supreme Court hears arguments in a school funding case that's gone on for years and could lead to the Legislature being ordered to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on public education.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the case, and some of the history.

I can't remember a time when there wasn't a school funding court case in Kansas. Why is that?

In 2014 Kansas lawmakers passed a bill changing how district court chief judges are selected. Since then judges have filed lawsuits against the state and legislators have made it possible to stop funding the judiciary.  Steve Kraske traces the timeline in the ongoing conflict and asks what the next move will be.

Guests:

  • Kansas State Sen. Jeff King, Chair of the Judiciary Committee.
  • Matthew Menendez, Counsel, Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

The Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday issued an order that may speed up the appeals process in the ongoing court battle over school funding in the state.

In December a three-judge panel of Shawnee County District Court ruled that the state's school funding formula is constitutional but underfunded. 

While the panel did not say how much more money is needed, it suggested it could be as much as $522 million.

Kansans voted to retain two Kansas Supreme Court justices under fire for their decision to overturn the death sentences of two brothers in one of the most notorious murder cases in the state’s history.

The two, Justice Eric S. Rosen and Justice Lee A. Johnson, were appointed to the court by former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Kansas Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor but stand for retention by voters at the end of their six-year terms.

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