Education funding arguments revealed

At least one local lawmaker expects the Kansas Supreme Court to mandate more money for public education when the latest funding lawsuit is resolved.

Emporia Rep. Don Hill says the facts of the Montoy case, ruled upon by the Supreme Court in 2005, haven't changed. Moreover, lawmakers have decreased K-12 funding instead of increasing it $440 million as ordered.

So how do lawmakers proceed if the Supreme Court does indeed demand more money? Hill says ponying up the money and perhaps changing the funding formula are both possibilities.

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The Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides Tuesday, with some justices critical of the state not adding money -- enough to raise base state aid per pupil some $700 to around $4,500 -- while cutting income taxes as the economy improved. The state appealed last year's Shawnee County District Court panel ruling, saying the Great Recession forced cuts to hit all aspects of state government, and said in testimony today lawmakers have some latitude in setting the budget when times get tough.

A decision is expected by the end of the year or shortly before lawmakers begin the 2014 session in January.

Fellow Emporia lawmakers Jeff Longbine and Peggy Mast have been unavailable for comment, as has Emporia Assistant Superintendent for Business Rob Scheib and North Lyon County Superintendent Mike Nulton. South Lyon County Superintendent Mike Argabright, who was at a development conference, is researching Tuesday's discussion before commenting.

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