It’s finally over. Well, kind of.
Today, the Kansas Supreme Court found the Legislature’s K-12 funding plan to be constitutional. The justices concluded the plan — supported by Democratic and Republican lawmakers as well as Gov. Laura Kelly — was both adequate and equitable.
After nearly a decade of litigation, Gannon v. Kansas has been brought to a tentative close.
The decision is good news for Kansans.
But there’s a catch.
As part of the decision, the Supreme Court will maintain jurisdiction over the case.
Essentially, the Supreme Court will ensure the state actually follows through with their funding plan.
There’s precedent for the government reneging on education funding.
In the mid-2000s, another Supreme Court case, Montoy v. Kansas, approved increased funding for schools in a decision similar to Friday’s.
After the recession hit in 2009, then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and her successor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, cut millions in K-12 funding, effectively violating the Montoy decision.
This cut made the state vulnerable to another lawsuit. That’s when Wichita pastor Jeff Gannon filed his suit.
The government’s decision in 2009 to violate the terms of Montoy is a prime example of why the Supreme Court needs to maintain jurisdiction.
During the latest round of arguments on Gannon, Justice Dan Biles explicitly mentioned the 2009 turnaround as a source of concern for the court.
The state could go back on its plan and leave schools high and dry once again. If the Court doesn’t maintain jurisdiction, the litigation which is sure to follow would have to come from a new plaintiff filing a new case.
Simply put, giving Gannon the ability to continue litigation in the case of a reversal is an incentive for the Legislature to keep its promise.
Some Republican legislators have criticized the court’s decision to maintain jurisdiction as a case of the court overstepping its authority.
Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) called the decision "another attempt to grab power.”
"The people must rise up and make their voices heard to fight against tyranny by the court," Pilcher-Cook said in a statement.
But really, the Supreme Court is just practicing good governance.
The Legislature has a constitutional duty to adequately and equitably fund Kansas’ public schools.
Kansas lawmakers have failed time and time again to fulfill this duty, so the Supreme Court has stepped in to hold legislators accountable.
This isn’t an overreach, it’s checks and balances in action.
Legislators like Sen. Pilcher-Cook want the Supreme Court to let lawmakers do their jobs.
But with a history of inaction and broken promises, the Legislature needs to prove they’re capable.
Nick Hinman is a Junior from Olathe majoring in political science and philosophy.