Brownback takes jab at judges’ school finance ruling in State of the State

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback used part of his State of the State address Tuesday to take a subtle jab at Friday’s ruling by a three-judge panel stipulating that the government needs to increase spending on public schools to meet the state’s “suitable” eduction provision:

Gov. Sam Brownback


In the democratic system of checks and balances crafted by our Founding Fathers, the power to authorize spending public money was given exclusively to you, the Legislative branch. This is a core principle.The “power of the purse” is the primary power of the Legislature, not the Executive or the Judiciary.

For the last two years – you, the Legislature, have proven that you can increase state support for education while pursuing pro-growth economic policy. Balancing a wide range of public priorities is one of the strengths of our representative system.

And so I ask you to make it clear in law that defining what is “suitable provision” for public funding of education is a job for the people’s elected representatives — and no one else.

But Brownback also introduced a proposal to spend $12 million to boost fourth graders’ reading skills, and said third graders should have to demonstrate adequate reading abilities before moving up a grade.

Still, the speech drew a sharp rebuke from some educators. The American Federation of Teachers-Kansas’s Lisa Ochs released a statement Tuesday night claiming the governor is “out of touch with Kansas values and priorities”:

He talked about the importance of quality education for Kansas children, but he and his allies in the Legislature have ignored their constitutional duty to equitably and adequately fund our public schools—as a panel of judges ruled just last week. While he says he will protect schools in the next budget, the governor’s math just will not add up unless he changes the rules on what constitutes support for students in the classroom.