Kansas Supreme Court grants stay in school funding case; dems concerned over revenue problems

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TOPEKA, Kansas – The Kansas Supreme Court granted a motion for stay of operation and enforcement Tuesday afternoon of the order by a three-judge panel announced Friday. Meaning, the $54 million due back to Kansas schools by July 1 will not be required for payment immediately.DOCUMENT | Kansas Supreme Court order for stay of operation and enforcement

DOCUMENT | Kansas motion for stay of operation and enforcement

The order states, in part,

“We hold the State has made the basic showing required to support its request for relief… Accordingly, this court stays the panel’s memorandum opinion and order of June 26 until our further order or the issuance of our mandate.” 

The order however, also states the urgency and “swift resolution” of the equity portions of the school funding case.

KSN reached out to Alan Rupe, an attorney for Schools for Fair Funding.

In response to the stay issued Tuesday, Rupe wrote,

“As we suspected, the Supreme Court stayed the Panel’s Order pending its review of the issues on appeal.  A copy of the Order is attached.  The Court did acknowledge the need for swift resolution of the equity portion of our case, and indicated that an order will soon be issued outlining an expedited briefing schedule and setting an oral argument.

Given the Supreme Court’s Order, we fully expect that the Court will take quick action to review the Panel’s decision…”

KSN reached out to state lawmakers to learn about the possible implications this stay could have on Kansas’ overall revenue projections.

“The holes, the budget holes, the deficits, just keep getting worse. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, financially,” said Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat representing the 86th district, in the Wichita area.

According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, and as announced Tuesday afternoon, while revenue receipts for fiscal year 2015 were $69.9 million more than the previous year, they were $22.5 million less than expected.

“We expected to grow about $110 million. So, we’re short,” explained Rep. Ward. “That’s what that shortfall means. We built our budget expecting to grow at a faster rate than we did.”

The state collected $59.3 million more in individual income tax receipts; $38.6 million more in sales and use tax receipts for fiscal year 2015 and $18 million more for corporate income tax receipts compared to the fiscal year prior.

This data however, does not include the $54 million the state was ordered to pay back to Kansas schools by July 1, now granted a stay until further notice.

Rep. Ward says that price tag adds more financial pressure to the state’s revenue situation.

“The cuts the governor has to make just got bigger,” said Ward.

Ward remains convinced on what he calls the source of the budget problem.

“Until we address the problem, which is 333,771 people who use services, but pay no state income taxes, we’re going to get news like this.”

Representatives from the state, however, remain seemingly positive.

“While receipts in June were below estimates, we are pleased that the fiscal year to date receipts were less than 1 percent below estimates and outperformed last fiscal year,” said Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan.

For more detailed information about the latest state revenue numbers, released Tuesday, click here.

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