The Kansas Supreme Court won't let Gov. Laura Kelly wade into arguments over the latest attempt to resolve ongoing school finance litigation.
Kelly on Monday asked the court for permission to file a brief in support of legislation she signed into law that would add about $90 million per year in public school funding.
The court denied her request because rules require amicus briefs, or briefs presented by bystanders to litigation, 30 days before oral arguments. Those arguments are scheduled for May 9.
The governor said she believes the Legislature fulfilled its obligation to address inflation issues identified by court last year, when it mostly accepted a plan to phase in a $522 million increase in annual aid to schools.
Lawmakers adopted legislation based on consistent recommendations from Kelly, the state board of education and the state department of education.
"I want the court to know what is very obvious, that this was a bipartisan, good-faith effort to meet the expectation of the court," Kelly said.
Attorneys representing schools say inflation was improperly calculated in the attempt to catch up on years of underfunding. Instead of adding $90 million every year for the next four years, the schools argue, the money should be cumulative, totaling a $360 million increase on top of the $522 million boost by the 2022-2023 school year.
The schools protested Kelly's interest in filing a brief in the case, arguing that she is a party to the lawsuit as a representative of the state and pointing out the timing problem. Because of her late request, the schools said, they wouldn't have enough time to prepare a response to her argument.
"Kelly's request to file an additional brief less than two weeks before oral argument diverts plaintiffs' attention from oral argument preparation, and requires plaintiffs to instead respond to an amicus brief that merely re-argues the state's position," the schools said.
Additionally, the schools said, at least one other state entity is interested in filing a brief.
"Plaintiffs will be significantly prejudiced if the multiple entities are allowed to file amicus briefs," the schools said.