A three-judge school finance court has ruled that current funding of schools is inadequate under the state Constitution. Acting on earlier direction from the state Supreme Court, the Shawnee County District Court panel concluded that current funding falls short of what are called the “Rose standards,” a multi-part test for adequacy of school spending outlined in a Kentucky case and adopted by courts across the country ... The state could increase base state aid per pupil to $4,654 from its current level of $3,852 and also increase weightings in order to meet the constitutional requirement. Or it could leave the weightings untouched and raise base aid to $4,980. These fixes would cost between $548 million and $771 million a year, Robb said. “I think they’re just telling the Legislature that if you do this, the problem will go away.” Robb praised the ruling as a great victory for Kansas kids and said that it confirms that a decades-long problem of underfunding schools continues to persist ... Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement that he was “still digesting the full implication of the district court’s 116-page ruling. I continue to believe that restructuring the school funding formula and implementing education policy reforms is critical not only to getting more money into our classrooms but also improving student achievement. I will be working with legislative leadership to address the best path forward. Of course Brownback’s tax cuts have led to rising deficits as Kansas’s recovery has lagged that of the rest of the nation. Bill McBride has been leading the discussion on state fiscal austerity including this from a few months ago:
the public sector has declined significantly since Mr. Obama took office (down 657,000 jobs). These job losses have mostly been at the state and local level, but more recently at the Federal level … A big question is when the public sector layoffs will end. It appears the cutbacks are over at the state and local levels in the aggregate, but it appears cutbacks at the Federal level have slowed.If we look at real government purchases at the state and local level, they fell dramatically in the aggregate from 2009 to 2012 but showed a modest turnaround in 2013. But real spending on education continued to fall in 2013. Education is the largest component of state and local budgets followed by public order and transportation. Table 3.15.6 from the BEA provides Real Government Consumption Expenditures and Gross Investment by Function in 2009$. From 2009 to 2012, real purchases on education by state and local governments fell from $820 billion to $771.3 billion, while their combined spending on public order and on transportation from $532 billion to $505.1 billion. The good news is that the latter rose to $517.9 billion in 2013. But spending on education dropped further to $757.5 billion. I am not an expert on what is Constitutional in each state but I do get that cutting education spending is both bad short-run macroeconomics in a still weak economy and horrible for long-term growth.