At NEJC Chamber forum, Rooker predicts Supreme Court won’t accept state’s arguments on K-12 funding bill

Rep. Melissa Rooker predicted the Supreme Court wouldn’t accept the legislature’s K-12 funding scheme in remarks made to an NEJC Chamber group Thursday.

Addressing a group of local civic and business leaders as part of the NEJC Chamber’s end-of-session legislative forum, Fairway Rep. Melissa Rooker on Thursday said she believed the Kansas Supreme Court would rule against the K-12 funding plan passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jeff Colyer last month.

Legislators, educators – and hundreds of thousands of parents with students in Kansas public schools — are waiting to see how the court will rule in the latest installment of the Gannon case following oral arguments before the justices May 22.

Rooker, who attended the oral arguments in person, said she walked out of the chamber convinced the court would determine that the state had not met the threshold for adequacy and equity required by the constitution.

“I think the short takeaway [is] I believe the state failed to make its case and we will lose this lawsuit,” Rooker said.

Precisely how the court will parse the letter of the bill, however, remains to be seen, Rooker noted. She told the group she believed the court would find a limited number of clauses in the text of the legislation problematic from an equity perspective, and that both sides at this point appeared to hope the court would use its authority to strike those provisions from the text.

“If you see equity issues, don’t shut schools down over that,” Rooker said. “Use the power you have to identify and strike those clauses.”

Assuming the equity issues are relatively minor, the big question remains whether the overall funding level is adequate or not.

“The amount of funding that we have going in is I think in the right ballpark,” she said. But the timeline is a little too long. And I think that may be where the court comes back and wants to see us put that money in on a quicker timeline.”

The Supreme Court typically issues its decisions on Fridays.