With the latest school finance litigation behind the state, provided that the money is there through 2023, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt wants to see the discussion shift back to policy and even potentially to a change in the Kansas Constitution if the legislature and the people of Kansas deem it necessary.
“I think this is the right time to reflect on what’s happened over the last decade and have a thoughtful discussion,” said Schmidt. “Not a table-pounding discussion, but a thoughtful discussion about whether this is really the way Kansans want school funding decisions to be made.”
Schmidt was clear that this is still up to the people to make their opinions known to their representatives.
“The answer might be yes, in which case things could be left alone,” said Schmidt. “Or, the answer might be, surely there’s a better way, in which case, this would be the right time to talk about whether there’s a change in the system that the Constitution creates that ought to be considered.”
Schmidt believes the Legislature and the Governor will keep their end of the bargain that the Court has signed off on.
“That’s what we anticipate,” said Schmidt. “Assuming, of course, that the Governor and the Legislature follow through on the promises that they’ve made for the next several years, but, this is unprecedented. At the end of this phase in period, the amount of money that Kansas taxpayers will be spending and schools will be receiving, will be about $1 billion per year more than it was a decade ago. This is dramatic change.”
Schmidt did note that the Legislature and the Governor have stretched the state’s finances to reach these numbers and it could be difficult to meet those obligations in the event of a major economic downturn.