University of Denver

School Funding Decision Could Intensify Efforts to Alter Selection of Kansas Judges

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

As IAALS Online has covered previously, Governor Brownback and conservative state legislators are expected to pursue changes to the process for choosing Kansas’ appellate judges in the upcoming legislative session. An unfavorable judicial decision in a school funding case could lend momentum to those efforts. In 2005, the supreme court declared that schools were underfunded in violation of the constitution and ordered a yearly increase of $853 million over three years. Conservative legislators initially refused to comply with the ruling, leading to a supreme court order that threatened to close the public schools. This issue is before the courts again, with a coalition of school districts alleging that the system is underfunded by as much as $1.5 billion. A trial court decision is expected in early 2013, and regardless of the outcome, it will likely be appealed to the supreme court.