This is the MainStream Coalition's statement on the ruling released March 2, 2017 by the Kansas Supreme Court with respect to Gannon v. Kansas. Further commentary and analysis will be in our weekly update on Monday.
The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the State of Kansas has inadequately funded public education, in violation of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, and the Court’s previous rulings. It has ordered the state to remedy the situation by June 30, 2017.
In essence, the Kansas Legislature must pass a school funding bill, this session, that affords every Kansan an equal opportunity at a quality education.
This is an exciting ruling, and a great day for Kansas, Kansas children, and the future of our state. There is no more important factor in the success of individuals, of business, or of communities than the quality of public education. The Court has affirmed that the Kansas Constitution requires that a quality, equitable education be afforded to every Kansan, and now the state must ensure this is the case.
The next steps will not be easy, or simple. Gov. Brownback’s short sighted and ineffective tax policies have left Kansas in a deep financial hole. In their attempts to fill that hole, the Governor’s allies in the Kansas Legislature have continued to trim and scrape and cut education budgets. That will no longer be acceptable.
Now, the Legislature must face reality. In order to adequately serve Kansans, in order to fulfill the promise of the Constitution, restoring sensible revenue policy is a requirement. We stand behind those legislators who already voted for fair and balanced tax reform. And we urge those who have voted in the past to support the Governor’s unbalanced policies—high sales taxes affecting low and middle income Kansans, coupled with low or zero taxes on the highest income brackets—we urge those legislators to now vote for comprehensive tax reform.
We also stand with those legislators working to craft a solid, responsible plan for public education funding. The current system of one-size-fits-all block grants has been ruled unconstitutional, and must be replaced with a flexible, thorough, ethical formula that guarantees an adequate and fair education for all Kansans.
Finally, the Legislature is required to balance this year’s budget, still in the red from too little revenue returned by current administration policies. There are no easy answers here, and we encourage legislators to make the difficult decisions ahead with an eye to the future and their responsibility to ALL Kansans firmly in their hearts.
The Supreme Court has marked the standard for Kansas to meet, one of high achievement and fair treatment, as laid out in the Kansas Constitution. We are encouraged by this, and by the demonstrated willingness of the 2017 Legislature to make the decisions needed to reach those goals. We encourage all Kansans to get involved in this process: contact your legislators through ksleglookup.org, and ask them to help.
Do more than vote.