The state legislature is in the final weeks of its 2017 session, and it still faces important fiscal decisions. One is to comply with a mandate by the Kansas Supreme Court, which decided in March of this year to increase funding for K-12 education by June 30 of an estimated $800 million per year. Also, an annual funding formula for K-12 education has yet to be adopted. Cuts in school funding occurred in 2008 and were blamed on the national recession of that year. It appeared in 2010 that school funding was cut by about $500,000 annually, and as the economy recovered, Kansas did not restore these funding cuts, and the cuts deepened.
In a unanimous decision this year, the Court gave attention to the achievement of students and found that about one-fourth of all K-12 students were not acquiring the basic skills of reading and mathematics. The Court also found that groups of “harder to educate students” were also being left behind. The state legislature must still decide on a tax and revenue policy, and this must be done before the legislature can satisfy the Supreme Court’s decision on education funding and if it is to meet other ongoing fiscal needs of the state.