Unified School Dist. No. 229 v. State, No. 70931

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Kansas
Writing for the CourtMcFARLAND
Citation885 P.2d 1170,256 Kan. 232
Parties, 96 Ed. Law Rep. 258 UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 229, et al., Appellants, v. The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellees. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 217, et al., Appellants, v. The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellees. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 244, et al., Appellants, v. The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellees. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 373, et al., Appellees, v. The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 70931
Decision Date02 December 1994

Page 1170

885 P.2d 1170
256 Kan. 232, 96 Ed. Law Rep. 258
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 229, et al., Appellants,
v.
The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellees.
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 217, et al., Appellants,
v.
The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellees.
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 244, et al., Appellants,
v.
The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellees.
UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 373, et al., Appellees,
v.
The STATE of Kansas, et al., Appellants.
No. 70931.
Supreme Court of Kansas.
Dec. 2, 1994.

Page 1171

Syllabus by the Court

1. A school district created by the legislature has no inherent power of taxation. It must look to the legislature for its right to raise funds by taxation and has only such power to levy, assess, and collect taxes or otherwise receive public funds as is clearly granted by the legislature.

2. A local school board's duties under § 5 of Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution are not self-executing but are dependent upon statutory enactments of the legislature.

3. The respective duties and obligations vested in local school boards and the legislature by Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution must be read together and harmonized so both entities may carry out their respective obligations.

Page 1172

4. The judiciary interprets, explains, and applies the law to controversies concerning rights, wrongs, duties, and obligations arising under the law and has had imposed upon it the obligations of interpreting the Constitution and of safeguarding the basic rights reserved thereby to the people. In this sphere of responsibility, courts have no power to overturn the law enacted by the legislature within constitutional limitations, even though the law may be unwise, impolitic, or unjust. The remedy in such a case lies with the people through the political process.

[256 Kan. 233] 5. The School District Finance and Quality Performance Act is examined and held not to be violative of the duties imposed upon local school boards and the legislature by §§ 5 and 6, respectively, of Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution.

6. The three standards of review applicable where legislation is claimed to be violative of the equal protection provisions of the United States and Kansas Constitutions (rational basis, heightened scrutiny, and strict scrutiny) are stated and discussed.

7. The rational basis test is held appropriate to challenges made to the School District Finance and Quality Performance Act on state and federal equal protection grounds, the test is applied, and the legislation is held not to be constitutionally impermissible.

8. Article 2, § 16 of the Kansas Constitution should not be construed narrowly or technically to invalidate proper and needful legislation, and where the subject of the legislation is germane to other provisions, the legislation is not objectionable as containing more than one subject or as containing matters not expressed in its title. This provision is violated only where an act of legislation embraces two or more dissimilar and discordant subjects that cannot reasonably be considered as having any legitimate connection with or relationship to each other.

9. The School District Finance and Quality Performance Act is held not to be violative of Article 2, § 16 of the Kansas Constitution requiring that all legislative bills contain a single subject.

10. The "recapture" provisions of the School District Finance and Quality Performance Act are held not to be a "taking" violative of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and §§ 1 and 2 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

11. Article 2, § 17 of the Kansas Constitution, which provides that all laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation throughout the state, requires that all laws of a general nature which affect the people of this state generally must operate with geographical uniformity. Constitutional challenges based upon a denial of equal protection of the laws not involving a claim of lack of geographical uniformity do not violate Article 2, § 17.

[256 Kan. 234] 12. The School District Finance and Quality Performance Act is held not to be violative of the uniform operation requirements of Article 2, § 17 of the Kansas Constitution.

13. The School District Finance and Quality Performance Act is held to be within all asserted constitutional limitations and, accordingly, is constitutionally permissible legislation.

John L. Vratil, of Lathrop & Norquist, L.C., Overland Park, argued the cause and Patrick J. Gregory, of the same firm, was with him on the brief for appellants Unified School Dist. No. 229, et al.

Alan E. Popkin, of Husch & Eppenberger, St. Louis, MO, argued the cause, and Harry B. Wilson, Daniel N. Bloom, and Karen Halbrook, of the same firm, were with him on the brief for appellants Unified School Dist. No. 217, et al.

Robert J. Perry, of Perry, Hamill & Fillmore, L.C., Overland Park, argued the cause, and Thomas A. Hamill and Gregory M. Dennis, of the same firm, and Bryan K. Joy, of Burlington, were with him on the brief for appellants Unified School Dist. No. 244, et al.

Carl L. Gallagher, Asst. Atty. Gen., argued the cause, and Robert T. Stephan, Atty. Gen., was with him on the briefs for appellant State of Kan.

Page 1173

Alan L. Rupe, of Rupe & Girard Law Offices, P.A., Wichita, argued the cause, and Steven J. Rupp, of the same firm, and John S. Robb, of Somers, Robb & Robb, of Newton, were with him on the brief for appellees Unified School Dist. No. 373, et al.

Dan Biles, of Gates & Clyde, Chartered, Overland Park, argued the cause, and Rodney J. Bieker, of the Kansas State Dept. of Educ., was on the brief for appellee Kansas State Bd. of Educ.

McFARLAND, Justice:

In these four consolidated actions, 97 plaintiffs, including unified school districts, taxpayers, and students, challenge the constitutionality of the School District Finance and Quality Performance Act. The 1992 legislature enacted Senate Substitute for H.B. 2892 (L.1992, ch. 280). This massive bill [256 Kan. 235] contains 69 sections, although only the first 36 sections thereof are designated as the School District Finance and Quality Performance Act. The bulk of the Act is codified at K.S.A. 72-6405 et seq., although some of the first 36 sections and the undesignated remaining 33 sections are, in codification, widely scattered in the Kansas Statutes. For our purposes, unless otherwise noted, we will refer to L.1992, ch. 280 as the Act, which also encompasses subsequent legislative amendments thereto.

The district court upheld the Act against challenges that it was constitutionally impermissible as being violative of:

1. Article 6, § 5 of the Kansas Constitution by infringing upon the authority granted to locally elected school boards to maintain, develop, and operate local public schools;

2. Article 6, § 6(b) of the Kansas Constitution in that it does not contain "suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state";

3. Section 1 of the Bill of Rights of the Kansas Constitution concerning equal protection (except for the low enrollment weighting factor);

4. Article 2, § 16 of the Kansas Constitution as containing more than one subject;

5. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and §§ 1 and 2 of the Bill of Rights of the Kansas Constitution on the claim that recapture funds provisions of K.S.A. 72-6431(d) constitute an excessive "taking" of property; and

6. Article 2, § 17 of the Kansas Constitution as a law of a general nature which does not operate uniformly throughout the state.

As to the low enrollment weighting factor, the district court held:

The record did not "contain a rational basis grounded upon education theory for distinguishing" between districts containing more than 1,899 students and those having fewer students; the low enrollment provision could not be severed from the Act; and the Act was, accordingly, unconstitutional.

[256 Kan. 236] Each of the foregoing holdings of the district court is an issue before us via interlocutory appeal or cross-appeal. Additionally, the district court held that a provision of the Act that set the school districts' mill levy for a period in excess of two years was constitutionally impermissible but was severable. However, that infirmity has been corrected by the 1994 legislature and is not before us.

The Act is, arguably, the most significant single piece of legislation ever enacted by the Kansas Legislature in terms of the amount of tax dollars involved and its impact on the citizens of Kansas. The Act represents a major policy shift in how public school education is viewed and how it is to be funded. That the magnitude of the change contained in the Act has generated such a firestorm of protest in a number of areas of the State is not surprising. The Act has been through the legislative process, was amended in many respects on its way to enactment, and became the law of this state. The consolidated actions herein are challenges to the constitutionality of the legislation. Accordingly, the judiciary's role is very limited in its scope. The wisdom or desirability of the legislation is not before us. The constitutional challenge goes only to testing the legislature's power to enact the legislation.

In U.S.D. No. 380 v. McMillen, 252 Kan. 451, 845 P.2d 676 (1993), constitutional challenges were asserted, as in the case before

Page 1174

us, that certain legislation violated provisions of Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution. In discussing the court's limited role in such matters, we stated:

"In considering the constitutionality of a statute duly enacted by the legislature, certain basic principles and rules apply. 'When a statute is attacked as unconstitutional a presumption of constitutionality exists and the statute must be allowed to stand unless it is shown to violate a clear constitutional inhibition. Shawnee Hills Mobile Homes, Inc. v. Rural Water District, 217 Kan. 421, 435, 537 P.2d...

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  • William Penn Sch. Dist. v. Pa. Dep't of Educ., No. 46 MAP 2015.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 28, 2017
    ...of all children residing within its borders." Seattle Sch. Dist., 585 P.2d 71 (explicit); see Unified Sch. Dist. No. 229 v. State, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170 (1994) (implicit under education clause that provides "[t]he legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and......
  • Campbell County School Dist. v. State, No. O
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 8, 1995
    ...793, 537 P.2d 635 (1975); People ex rel. Jones v. Adams, 40 Ill.App.3d 189, 350 N.E.2d 767 (1976); Unified Sch. Dist. No. 229 v. Kansas, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170 (1994), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 115 S.Ct. 2582, 132 L.Ed.2d 832 (1995); Hornbeck v. Somerset County Bd. of Educ., 295 Md.......
  • Petrella v. Brownback, Nos. 13–3334
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • June 1, 2015
    ...schools through taxes and other mechanisms provided for by the legislature, not by local districts.” Unified Sch. Dist. No. 229 v. State, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170, 1175 (1994) (“USD 229 ”). Through most of 787 F.3d 1250Kansas history, public schools were funded principally through local ......
  • Gannon v. State, No. 109,335.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • March 7, 2014
    ...they assert. For the first time in Kansas school finance litigation since at least the district court level in U.S.D. No. 229 v. State, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170 (1994), the State raises the issue of nonjusticiability. If the State prevails on this threshold matter, we do not reach the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • William Penn Sch. Dist. v. Pa. Dep't of Educ., No. 46 MAP 2015.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • September 28, 2017
    ...of all children residing within its borders." Seattle Sch. Dist., 585 P.2d 71 (explicit); see Unified Sch. Dist. No. 229 v. State, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170 (1994) (implicit under education clause that provides "[t]he legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and......
  • Campbell County School Dist. v. State, No. O
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 8, 1995
    ...793, 537 P.2d 635 (1975); People ex rel. Jones v. Adams, 40 Ill.App.3d 189, 350 N.E.2d 767 (1976); Unified Sch. Dist. No. 229 v. Kansas, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170 (1994), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 115 S.Ct. 2582, 132 L.Ed.2d 832 (1995); Hornbeck v. Somerset County Bd. of Educ., 295 Md.......
  • Petrella v. Brownback, Nos. 13–3334
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • June 1, 2015
    ...schools through taxes and other mechanisms provided for by the legislature, not by local districts.” Unified Sch. Dist. No. 229 v. State, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170, 1175 (1994) (“USD 229 ”). Through most of 787 F.3d 1250Kansas history, public schools were funded principally through local ......
  • Gannon v. State, No. 109,335.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • March 7, 2014
    ...they assert. For the first time in Kansas school finance litigation since at least the district court level in U.S.D. No. 229 v. State, 256 Kan. 232, 885 P.2d 1170 (1994), the State raises the issue of nonjusticiability. If the State prevails on this threshold matter, we do not reach the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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