State of Kansas vs. Students

Thank you to Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network, for this fine article.

It would be a different matter if all this spending produced results. There is no reason to believe that increased spending on schools will do much to improve the lot of the average Kansas child. Sadly, this increased spending lets politicians, education bureaucrats, and school boards claim victory “for the children.” The needed reforms are put off for another year. Alan Rupe, have you no shame? Do you really believe you are doing the right thing for Kansas children, or are you only looking to earn a legal fee?

Taxpayers have had to pay over millions to fund both the school districts suing the state for additional state spending, for the state’s defense of this lawsuit, and this does not include the costs for the judicial system. Instead of chasing ambulances it has now become much more remunerative for lawyers in Kansas to chase taxpayers. You as a taxpayer will have to pay a lot more in taxes due to this odious environment. Kansas is the economic loser as school district lawyers Alan Rupe and John Robb made their case for another statehouse spending spree March 5, 2006 in the Wichita Eagle.

Kansas has been spending more per pupil in total tax funds for K-12 than all of the states in our region, more than the average in the entire United States, and does so with lower than average income. This is the 2004-05 data from the 2004-05 U.S. Statistical Abstract (chart 241, data is from 2002-03).

StateAvg. $ per pupil
Kansas$8,687
U.S. average$8,428
Colorado$8,010
Missouri$7,674
Nebraska$7,671
Oklahoma$6,577


This data does NOT include the almost $300 million increase in state spending last year, as well as additional federal, and local spending hikes that will increase this total government school spending. This increase is over $675 per pupil in state taxes alone.

Now the school district lawyers prevaricate that this double-digit hike in state spending is somehow falling behind inflation. It would be a delirious day for Kansas workers if the average Kansas wage grew at the same rate that spending on public schools has grown last year or even since the last time school district lawyers won a lawsuit against the state for more spending in 1992. Kansans income already lags well below the national average. In 1992 the last year before Judge Bullock’s Mock decision state school spending was $1.028 billion. For 2006 state spending is $2.587 billion. This 152 percent increase in state public school spending far exceeds inflation.

It is sad to see these school district lawyers claiming inadequate state funding when national survey’s show that Kansas not only spends more, but the state spending is among the highest percentage of all 50 states. When the school lawyers say, … “constitutionally suitable education..,” they should actually quote the Kansas Constitution which says in Article 6 Section 6(b), “The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” The phrase “suitable education” is not used let alone defined in the Kansas Constitution. Sadly, the seven activist, left-wing judges on the Sebelius and Democrat dominated Kansas Supreme Court have ignored this clear sentence for some judicial legislating from the bench.

The Supreme Court’s ludicrous 2005 school finance ruling that claims that a specific dollar amount of additional spending is some how contained in an un-named segment the Kansas Constitution has placed all Kansas government at risk. Article IV. Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees this state a republican form of government. These judges have put our republic in jeopardy with their usurpation in this case. Appropriation by appointed judicial fiat is abhorrent to this republican guarantee in the U.S. Constitution.

The court’s spending edict has dramatically raised the risk and uncertainty of the fiscal and business climate in this state. This is hurting our state’s economy and will provide another reason for this state to be bypassed by business and growth. Jobs and income will lag even more as long as our appointed judicial oligarchy continues to reign over spending.

The legislature must rein in this activist court, resume control over this state’s fiscal matters, and penalize school districts who are putting their lawsuits ahead of educational spending. If school districts lost $10 in state aid for every dollar spent on suing the state these lawsuits would cease. Ironically, the post audit report that these lawyers praise, would actually widen the disparity in state funding between the mid-sized school districts suing the state and the larger urban districts that are not. After this lawsuit ends another will be filed.

The post audit report is based upon the dubious research of William Duncombe and John Yinger, two liberal New York professors who are also backing the school finance lawsuit in New York over that state’s supposedly “inadequate” public school funding. New York’s school spending is already among the highest level of all 50 states so higher is never enough there, or here. As long as the legal gravy train supporting these lawsuits continues to prosper, Kansans will suffer. Kansas high school and college graduates will receive their diplomas but many will not find jobs in this oligarchic, risky, and litigious environment of legal edicts that trash many of the principles of limited government that we fought a revolution over in 1776.

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