Monday, November 18, 2013

Brownback says litigation over school finance is ‘dumb way of handling this’

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA, KAN. — Speaking against school-finance litigation, Gov. Sam Brownback said he would push school superintendents to meet with legislative leaders as the Kansas Supreme Court considers whether to order the state to increase school funding.

"This a dumb way of handling this," Brownback said of school-finance litigation. "This is the wrong way to handle it," he said to a group of reporters.

A lower court panel has ruled that the state has unconstitutionally cut public school funding while passing mammoth tax cuts and has ordered an increase of upwards of $500 million per year.

The state has appealed and the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule in the next couple of months.

Brownback said school superintendents and legislative leaders needed to meet to discuss school funding.

"If you're not talking, you're not going to come up with any resolution. If you're talking, you got a chance of being able to come up with something," he said.

Brownback said he has long opposed litigation in school funding.

As a law student at Kansas University more than 30 years ago, he said he listened to a lecture from former State District Judge Terry Bullock, who was a key figure in the Kansas school finance lawsuits.

"I heard a lecture from Judge Bullock then talking about the litigation and how he was going to handle it and push the Legislature. I was saying, 'Why are you the guy doing this? This sounds like something, you know a governor, or legislative leadership ought to be (handling). Why is this, a judge, that's sitting here on top of this?"