Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Democrat Predicting State Crisis ; Davis: Education Funding Battle Looms over Kansas

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Democrat Predicting State Crisis ; Davis: Education Funding Battle Looms over Kansas

Article excerpt

HUTCHINSON -- Democrat Paul Davis on Friday night predicted a constitutional crisis over school funding after an eventual Kansas Supreme Court ruling that he expects will order the Legislature to boost education spending.

The Lawrence attorney, who failed to oust Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in November's election, indicated he plans to maintain a public presence, saying he would continue to speak throughout the state. But Davis gently deflected questions about his political future -- his focus is on the 2016 legislative elections, he said.

The one-time gubernatorial candidate, no longer campaigning against Brownback directly, set his sights on the Statehouse more generally during a 40-minute appearance before a Reno County group pushing for greater moderation in government.

"As the economy started to rebound from the recession, that was the time for us to start stockpiling some dollars so that we could pay the bill that was going to come. And now we are in a situation where the state is just flat broke. And a lot of legislators are not very happy about that," Davis said.

He added a short time later: "The Legislature, I think, is very likely to try to defy the court. Where it goes from there I don't exactly know because it's uncharted territory."

Lawmakers have been grappling with an ongoing lawsuit for some time that seeks additional state funding for education. Known as the Gannon case, the courts breathed new life into the legal proceedings this summer after the Legislature earlier this year scrapped the state's school funding formula.

The formula had been in place since the early '90s, and lawmakers replaced it with a block grant system. Republicans say they plan to implement a new formula within the next couple of years.

The lawsuit will almost certainly result in a ruling from the state's high court, perhaps next year.

Many Republicans have defended the new system, arguing that it gives greater transparency to education spending. …

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