Kansas Governor: State Would Have to Raise Taxes if It Loses Supreme Court Case

By Daarel Burnette II — October 04, 2016 2 min read
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Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, known for his famous 2012 experiment to slash away at taxes, said Friday the state would have to raise taxes if it loses a funding fight in the supreme court, according to the Wichita Eagle.

The state’s supreme court heard oral arguments last week in the Gannon v. Kansas case, in which four of the state’s poorest districts argue that the state doesn’t adequately support their school systems. Based on several studies, the districts argue that they need $800 million to $900 million more from the state in order to provide students with the services they need to meet the state’s academic standards.

“You’d have to look at major tax increases to do that,” Brownback told the Eagle.

After a series of income tax cuts in 2012 and 2013—cuts Brownback pushed for—the state has fallen far short of its revenue projections. It faces a $45 million budget shortfall this month alone, according to local reports.

The Sunflower State lost a separate part of the school funding case dealing with equity earlier this year, and was ordered to provide its poor districts with $400 million more dollars. The state answered that ruling by taking money from wealthier districts and handing it to poorer districts.

If Kansas loses the other part of the case, the adequacy ruling, it would require the state to provide all of its districts more money. The justices are expected to issue a ruling in late November, after election day. At least five of the justices are up for reelection.

Meanwhile, in Washington State, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who is running for another term in office, said last week that his office has tried its hardest to respond to a state supreme court ruling there that ordered the state to provide millions more in funding. The court last year imposed a $100,000-a-day fine until the state’s funding formula is completely overhauled.

The Washington state legislature, during its last session, approved a “plan-for-a-plan” to have a new funding formula in place by next spring.

The state’s educators have said that the governor and legislature have acted too slowly to respond to the ruling and last month asked the court to amp up its threats to get the state to more quickly respond.

“If we design our lives based on wishes, yeah, I wished that we’d solved everything an hour after I took, you know, my oath of office in 2013,” Inslee said, according to the Seattle Times. “But these are challenging issues.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.