Education Funding Ruling May Prompt Constitutional Change

Jan 15, 2013

Lawmakers are sworn in on the first day of the 2013 legislative session.
Credit Stephen Koranda

Education funding took center stage on the first day of the 2013 Kansas legislative session.

Lawmakers returned to Topeka just days after a district court ruled that the state needs to increase school funding. Some lawmakers may try to change the Kansas Constitution in response to the ruling.

The Kansas Constitution says lawmakers must provide a suitable provision for financing education, but some legislators would like to change that definition. Altering the Constitution would require approval by both chambers and a public vote. House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, would like voters to weigh in.

“It’s giving the public a chance to vote, and I’m always for letting them express their opinion at the ballot box,” he says.

Advocates for education joined a rally at the Statehouse and praised the court ruling.

Karen Godfrey is president of the Kansas National Education Association. She hopes the ruling will send a message to state lawmakers.

"So instead of finding ways to resist funding what we need to fund, let’s find ways to do it,” says Godfrey.

The state of Kansas will appeal the district court ruling on school funding. The Kansas Supreme Court will now weigh in, but that isn’t likely to happen before the end of the session.