The President and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce says he believes the legislature is listening to the Kansas Supreme Court, but maybe not to business owners.
“What’s driving the legislature is what the Supreme Court mandates, not what’s needed,” said Alan Cobb. “We’re not talking about results and accountability and I think that’s unfortunate. You have the Supreme Court that’s legislating and appropriating. It’s really not very complicated. Of course, that’s what they’re doing.”
Sixty-four percent of respondents to a Chamber survey conducted in December believe the Kansas Supreme Court oversteps its authority in its rulings involving K-12 school funding.
“I think business leaders are not unlike anybody else in the state,” said Cobb. “They think they’ve overstepped and they’ve gone well beyond what the Supreme Court should do, which was rule on matters of law and not appropriate.”
Cobb sees the solution to school funding coming not through giving an amount of money, but rather, through amending the Kansas Constitution.
“We need to get through the school finance litigation,” said Cobb. “Ultimately, we need a Constitutional amendment to clarify the role of the legislature versus the Supreme Court or we’re going to have more litigation. In fact, I’ve talked to some legislators who, with a straight face, say, oh, if we pass this current bill, increasing funding by inflation, what the Supreme Court wants, that will give us at least five years before another school finance litigation. They say that with a straight face, as if that’s a good thing.”
Cobb believes limiting the school funding discussion to dollars and cents is not good for the kids and the citizens of the state.