Kansas: Senate leaders appear to stop bill to increase funding for public schools until constitutional amendment to strip courts of K-12 funding decisions is passed

A bill to increase funding for Kansas public schools that passed the House will not move in the Senate until both chambers approved a bill to strip to Kansas judiciary of jurisdiction to hear K-12 funding disputes.

First, some background.

As mentioned on this blog over the years the Kansas Supreme Court has issued several decisions finding the legislature’s system and amounts for public education were unconstitutional under a provision that

The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.

Dozens of constitutional amendments detailed here have been filed over the last decade to strip the Kansas courts of jurisdiction to hear cases under this provision and to allow the legislature to set whatever funding levels and funding sources it wished.

The Kansas Supreme Court has given the legislature until April 30 to come up with a constitutional funding formula.

The House, in response, today passed HB 2445 to provide additional funding.

Senate leadership, however, has announced no funding bill will be taken up in the Senate until a constitutional amendment (HCR 5029 or something similar) is approved by the House and Senate and sent to voters. Moreover, local media reports if the amendment fails to pass the House, Senate leaders will simply not take up the funding bill at all.

That amendment would amend the constitution to read

As all political power is inherent in the people, the legislature shall make determine suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. The determination of the total amount of funding that constitutes suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state is exclusively a legislative power, and shall be made as provided by law. Such power is committed to the legislature under article 2 of this constitution and shall be shown due respect by the other branches of government. No court, or other tribunal, established by this constitution or otherwise by law shall alter, amend, repeal or otherwise abrogate such power, nor shall such power be exercised by, either directly or indirectly, by any such court or other tribunal.