Colorado school funding found constitutional

by Walter Olson on May 28, 2013

The Colorado Supreme Court, wisely resisting a national campaign of school funding litigation, has turned down a lawsuit arguing that the state is obliged under its constitution to step up school spending. [Denver Post, KDVR, opinion in State v. Lobato]

I’ve got a post up at Cato at Liberty about the Colorado decision, noting that although school finance litigators make a lot of noise about educational quality, they are actually on a mission of “control —specifically, transferring control over spending from voters and their representatives to litigators whose loyalty is to a mix of ideologues and interest groups sharing a wish for higher spending.” I quote from a section on school finance litigation that I wound up cutting from my book Schools for Misrule about the enormous impact such suits have had in other states:

Vast sums have been redistributed as a result. Lawmakers in Kentucky enacted more than a billion dollars in tax hikes. New Jersey adopted its first income tax. Kansas lawmakers levied an additional $755 million in taxes after the state’s high court in peremptory fashion ordered them to double their spending on schools.

The results have been at best mixed: while some states to come under court order have improved their educational performance, many others have stagnated or fallen into new crisis. Colorado is fortunate not to join their ranks. (& reprint: Complete Colorado)

P.S. From a Colorado Springs Gazette report, Jul. 31, 2011:

“Putting more money into a broken system won’t get a better results. There are improvements that could be made without money,” says Deputy Attorney General Geoffrey Blue. …

He points to a Cato Institute study that showed spending on education across the country has skyrocketed but test scores didn’t improve.

“That would mean that potentially every cent of the state budget would be shifted over to K-12 education,” says Blue, who heads the office’s legal policy and government affairs.

{ 2 comments }

1 Don 05.28.13 at 11:22 am

This school funding litigation is in round 2 in Idaho.

First round ended with the State changing how schools are funded. Now people are unhappy and trying for a better result.

What if the State Supreme Court rules and orders the legislature to double funding, could the legislature say “No”.

Has there ever been a case where a State Executive and Legislative branches told the Judicial branch to go take a leap?

2 HorrifiedOnlooker 05.28.13 at 12:21 pm

Sigh.

New Jersey has been under court ordered funding for decades and it has done nothing but raise (especially property) taxes while educational quality drops. Just a big wealth transfer scam as far as anyone can tell

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