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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Thu, Jul 7, 2005

Kansas Legislators Comply with State Supreme Court Ruling in Education Case

Resolution of stand-off expected to influence similar CFE case in New York and other education adequacy cases across the country

With the prospect of a court-imposed school shutdown looming over lawmakers, the Kansas legislature approved a school finance package late Wednesday that satisfies the requirements of the Kansas Supreme Court. The plan was drafted by a bi-partisan coalition and increases the education budget by $148.4 million—$5 million more than the court ordered.

“Kansas has showed us in New York and around the country the way forward out of a potential constitutional crisis, ” said CFE Executive Director Michael A. Rebell. “The proper functioning of our tri-partite system of government prevailed, and the winners are the schoolchildren there who were being deprived of their constitutional right to a sound basic education. It’s a clear and powerful signal, and I hope the governor and the legislature in New York are paying close attention.”

In a June 3 ruling, the Kansas Supreme court ordered legislators to double the education increases they had budgeted for the 2005-2006 year from $143 million to $286 million by July 1. To avert a constitutional crisis, Governor Kathleen Sebelius convened a special session of the legislature on June 22, but by the July 1 deadline, legislators had failed to agree on a suitable plan for compliance. The supreme court again threatened lawmakers with a school shutdown and scheduled a hearing for July 8. After 12 days of legislative deadlock, legislators agreed on a plan that met the demands of the court’s order in advance of the hearing.

“The resolve of Kansas’ highest court is most likely what impelled a resolution,” said Michael A. Rebell. “If that’s what it will take in New York, so be it, but it would be better if Albany lawmakers just did their job without being forced to by a court.”

In the CFE case, the governor and legislature continue to defy a mandate of the state’s highest court to reform its unconstitutional education funding system. New York remains the only state in the nation to completely ignore a court order to provide educational opportunity to all students, and the case in Kansas, which has had a similar legal trajectory, has been closely watched as a harbinger of things to come in New York.

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Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >