Wyoming: Senate approves constitutional amendment to strip courts of power to hear challenges to K-12 education funding

A plan to strip the Wyoming courts of the power to hear cases involving K-12 education funding has cleared the Senate. The plan comes amid anticipation the state will have to cut funding for schools in possible violation of a series of state supreme court decisions (the Campbell cases) issued since 1995 that held such cuts would violate Art. 7, Sec. 9 of the state constitution regarding school funding.

The legislature shall make such further provision by taxation or otherwise, as with the income arising from the general school fund will create and maintain a thorough and efficient system of public schools, adequate to the proper instruction of all youth of the state, between the ages of six and twenty-one years, free of charge…

SJR 9 was approved on 26-4 vote by the Senate last week (media coverage here). It would amend Art. 7, Sec. 9 by providing the legislature alone is to determine the necessary levels of funding (new language in bold)

The legislature shall make such further provision by taxation or otherwise, as the legislature determines necessary together with the income arising from the general school fund will to create and maintain a thorough and efficient system of public schools…

In addition the constitution would be amended to add the following language:

No court shall order, enjoin or otherwise require the imposition of any tax or tax increase, nor require any other provision of funding beyond those means and amounts prescribed by law to carry into effect the provisions of this section.

SJR 9 now goes to the House where it must receive at least 2/3rds support before being sent to voters.