Gannon v. State, No. 113,267

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
Citation420 P.3d 477
Docket NumberNo. 113,267
Decision Date25 June 2018
Parties Luke GANNON, by His Next Friends and Guardians, et al., Appellees, v. STATE of Kansas, Appellant.

420 P.3d 477

Luke GANNON, by His Next Friends and Guardians, et al., Appellees,
v.
STATE of Kansas, Appellant.

No. 113,267

Supreme Court of Kansas.

Opinion filed June 25, 2018.


Toby J. Crouse, solicitor general, argued the cause, and Jeffrey A. Chanay, chief deputy attorney general, M.J. Willoughby, assistant attorney general, Dwight R. Carswell, assistant solicitor general, Topeka, Bryan C. Clark, assistant solicitor general, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, Topeka, were with him on the briefs for appellant State of Kansas; Arthur S. Chalmers, of Hite, Fanning & Honeyman, LLP, of Wichita, was with him on the briefs for appellant State of Kansas.

Alan L. Rupe, of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, of Wichita, argued the cause, and Jessica L. Skladzien, of the same firm, and John S. Robb, of Somers, Robb & Robb, of Newton, were with him on the briefs for appellees.

Per Curiam:

420 P.3d 480

Article 6, § 6(b) of the Kansas Constitution imposes a duty on the legislature to "make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state." On October 2, 2017, we ruled that the State had not met its burden of showing that its remedial legislation—2017 Senate Bill 19 (S.B. 19)—met Article 6's adequacy and equity requirements. Gannon v. State , 306 Kan. 1170, 1172, 402 P.3d 513 (2017) ( Gannon V ).

We stayed the issuance of our mandate until June 30, 2018. We reasoned this gave the State ample time to satisfactorily demonstrate that its additional remedial legislation brought the K-12 public education financing system into constitutional compliance. 306 Kan. at 1182, 402 P.3d 513 (State bears burden of establishing constitutional compliance). And the 2018 legislature responded to Gannon V in April by passing 2018 Substitute for Senate Bill 423 (S.B. 423) and 2018 House Substitute for Senate Bill 61 (S.B. 61).

But the State still has not met the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution. Although it has expressed an intent to comply with the adequacy threshold discussed in Montoy v. State , 282 Kan. 9, 138 P.3d 755 (2006) ( Montoy IV ), it has failed to consistently implement its self-styled "Montoy safe harbor" plan of compliance described in the April 23, 2018, memo from the Kansas Legislative Research Department (KLRD) to legislative counsel. By timely making financial adjustments regarding problems identified below, however, the State can satisfactorily address the remaining constitutional infirmities in adequacy appearing in its chosen plan and particularly in the implementation. We discern two obvious problems arising from the April 23 memo:

1. The failure to adjust two years of funding for inflation through the approaching 2018-19 school year. Satisfactory adjustments would result in a higher amount of principal, i.e., more than the $522 million the memo calculates as yet owed to the school districts; and
420 P.3d 481
2. The failure to adjust for inflation until the memo's calculated principal sum ($522 million, plus the adjustment referenced above) is paid in full, e.g., approximately five years. Satisfactory adjustments would result in more than that principal figure being paid during that span. But we acknowledge the first year of payment—for school year 2018-19—need not be adjusted because that inflation has already been accounted for in paragraph 1 above.

We will also discuss other adequacy concerns, e.g., the State's treatment of virtual school state aid.

As to equity, upon review of this remedial legislation, we conclude that under the present circumstances the State has corrected the Gannon V constitutional infirmities and has created no others, contrary to plaintiffs' current contentions.

Because of the problems with adequacy we retain jurisdiction and stay the issuance of today's mandate until June 30, 2019, or until further order of the court. The Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act (KSEEA)—enacted by S.B. 19—will remain in temporary effect. And S.B. 423 and S.B. 61 can go into temporary effect on the dates that legislation has scheduled—until further order of this court. This action acknowledges the State's position: that the 2018 legislature's efforts and the amount of money added to the financing system for the approaching school year should permit such an extension through the 2019 regular legislative session. And it effectively grants the State's repeated request to so extend so it can develop a final remediation plan for our review.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This lawsuit was filed in November 2010 after the State started making cuts to education funding. Those cuts began with a reduction to the $4,433 base aid amount for each student for school year (SY) 2008-09 (fiscal year 2009) which had been set by the 2006 Kansas legislature. In 2006, the Montoy IV court had relied upon that statutory scheme, including planned increases to base aid, when it held the State had substantially complied with this court's orders and dismissed the case. 282 Kan. at 24-25, 138 P.3d 755.

In Gannon v. State , 298 Kan. 1107, 319 P.3d 1196 (2014) ( Gannon I ), we remanded the lawsuit to a three-judge panel for application of a refined test for adequacy. Later, in December 2014, the panel held the legislature unconstitutionally underfunded K-12 public education between fiscal years (FY) 2009 and 2012. The 2015 legislature quickly repealed its primary vehicle for school finance funding: the School District Finance and Quality Performance Act (SDFQPA). The SDFQPA had been enacted in 1992 and established a base aid formula which provided a fixed amount of funding for each student and adjusted that funding by various weightings, e.g., for "at-risk" students.

The 2015 legislature replaced the SDFQPA with the Classroom Learning Assuring Student Success Act (CLASS). CLASS established "block grants" that froze funding levels for FY 2016 and FY 2017 at the FY 2015 level until CLASS expired on June 30, 2017. The panel held CLASS was also unconstitutional, and the State appealed.

On March 2, 2017, this court held CLASS was constitutionally inadequate in both structure and implementation. Gannon v. State , 305 Kan. 850, 390 P.3d 461 (2017) ( Gannon IV ). The State was given until June 30, 2017, to enact remedial legislation. 305 Kan. at 919, 390 P.3d 461. And the 2017 legislature ultimately passed S.B. 19.

S.B. 19 enacted the KSEEA, which returned to the same basic finance formula and revenue streams as the SDFQPA. Gannon V , 306 Kan. at 1179, 402 P.3d 513. At the time, S.B. 19 was predicted to add $292.5 million in "new money" over two years—FY 2018 and FY 2019. 306 Kan. at 1181, 402 P.3d 513. But as discussed below, it actually added approximately $24.5 million more for a total of $317 million.

On October 2, 2017, this court generally approved the KSEEA. Gannon V , 306 Kan. 1170, 402 P.3d 513. But we held the State failed to meet its burden to satisfactorily demonstrate S.B. 19 was reasonably calculated to address the inadequate funding.

420 P.3d 482

306 Kan. at 1212, 402 P.3d 513. We also held S.B. 19 created four equity violations that we discuss in greater detail below. This court stayed the mandate, allowing S.B. 19 to take effect but only until June 30, 2018. 306 Kan. at 1239, 402 P.3d 513. So the KSEEA temporarily became law and is now codified at K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 72-5131 et seq.

In response to Gannon V , the 2018 legislature commissioned a cost study by WestEd. This organization used a cost function approach to estimate the costs associated with reaching certain performance outcomes (graduation rate and test proficiency) established in part by Kansas' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan submitted by the State Department of Education to the United States Department of Education. The legislature also hired Jesse Levin of the American Institutes for Research to conduct a "peer review" of three of the State's cost studies. His first report reviewed two of them: the 2000-01 Augenblick and Myers study (A & M) dated May 2002 and the 2006 Legislative Division of Post Audit (LPA) cost study. His second report reviewed WestEd's study.

The legislature's WestEd cost study contained three funding scenarios for K-12 public education. These are: (1) compensatory support for Scenario A, which has a $6.438 billion cost estimate; (2) compensatory support for Scenario B, with a $6.719 billion cost estimate; and (3) no compensatory support, which has a $5.103 billion cost estimate. Considering the $4.652 billion the State spent in SY 2016-17, Scenario A would require an increase of $1.786 billion, Scenario B an increase of $2.067 billion, and the no compensatory support category an increase of $451 million annually.

During a presentation to the legislature, WestEd explained that Scenarios A and B included "temporary transitional funding" used to "catch up" the districts that are not close to the performance goals costed out in the study. Once those achievement goals are obtained, the no compensatory support or "maintenance cost" represents the long-run cost required to sustain those higher performance levels.

In general, compensatory support for Scenario A was designed to achieve two goals by the end of SY 2021-22. These are: a 95% graduation rate in each school district and a...

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2 practice notes
  • Gannon v. State, No. 113,267
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • June 14, 2019
    ...June we held the State had resolved nearly all of the issues in this long-running school finance appeal. Gannon v. State , 308 Kan. 372, 420 P.3d 477 (2018) ( Gannon VI ). We specifically concluded that through legislation enacted in 2017 and 2018, the State had met its burden of complying ......
  • Stephens v. Ainsworth, No. 117,736
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 18, 2019
    ...courts do not reweigh the evidence or assess the credibility of witnesses. [Citations omitted.]’ " Gannon v. State , 308 Kan. 372, 382, 420 P.3d 477 (2018).Because this court refrains from weighing conflicting evidence, assessing witness credibility, or redetermining questions of fact, this......
2 cases
  • Gannon v. State, No. 113,267
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • June 14, 2019
    ...June we held the State had resolved nearly all of the issues in this long-running school finance appeal. Gannon v. State , 308 Kan. 372, 420 P.3d 477 (2018) ( Gannon VI ). We specifically concluded that through legislation enacted in 2017 and 2018, the State had met its burden of complying ......
  • Stephens v. Ainsworth, No. 117,736
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • January 18, 2019
    ...courts do not reweigh the evidence or assess the credibility of witnesses. [Citations omitted.]’ " Gannon v. State , 308 Kan. 372, 382, 420 P.3d 477 (2018).Because this court refrains from weighing conflicting evidence, assessing witness credibility, or redetermining questions of fact, this......

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