Gannon plaintiffs point to HB 2395 as a reason for court to maintain jurisdiction in school finance lawsuit

Plaintiff districts in the Gannon school finance lawsuit say another reason the Kansas Supreme Court should maintain jurisdiction in the case is HB 2395; the conservative Republican plan that would have reneged on previously-approved funding increases.

Approved last month by the House K-12 Education Budget Committee, HB 2395 would have eliminated both the last two years of a four-year school funding plan approved in 2018 as well as inflation adjustments in future years.

Even though HB 2395 was not brought up for a vote before the full House, the House-Senate conference committee that produced SB 16 — the new school finance law which is now before the court —  spent a lot of time debating it, the plaintiffs said.

“The Court should be mindful of this type of legislative activity,” the plaintiff districts said in a final round of legal briefs filed earlier this week before oral arguments before the court on May 9.

Here is a link to the plaintiffs brief and here is a link to the state’s brief. The briefs were filed in response to earlier briefs filed April 15. Here is a link to the Kansas Supreme Court webpage that has links to documents in the Gannon case.

The plaintiffs also point out the reason the Gannon lawsuit was filed in 2010 was because the state reneged on phased-in funding approved by the court from the previous Montoy school finance lawsuit.

In Gannon, the plaintiffs argue that the state was required under the court’s previous ruling to increase funding by $363 million to account for inflation and that the $92 million under SB 16 falls far short. The districts also note even though SB 16 was passed by bipartisan majorities, that doesn’t make it constitutional.

The state argues there is no constitutionally required method of figuring inflation and the proper accounting of inflation should be left up to the Legislature.

The state, using KASB analyses, notes that Kansas teacher salaries have increased ahead of inflation the past two years while teacher salaries nationwide have fallen when adjusted for inflation. And the state argues that apart from the calculation of inflation, “the sheer amount of additional funding provided in the last few years justifies” a finding that SB 16 complies with the constitution. Local school districts will be annually receiving approximately $1 billion more in state funding in fiscal year 2022-23 than provided in fiscal year 2015-16, the state says.

A decision in the case is expected before June 30.

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