Thursday, November 20, 2003

Judge hears arguments over motion to dismiss schools suit



By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - An attorney for lawmakers named in a lawsuit alleging inadequate funding of public schools asked a Franklin County circuit judge Wednesday to dismiss the case.

The case should be dismissed because it could infringe on the state constitution and cross the separation of powers, sad Mark Overstreet, an attorney representing the lawmakers. Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, and House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, are defendants in the case.

"What the General Assembly, in making this motion, is simply doing is having the constitution observed," Overstreet told reporters following the hearing.

"This motion is about the law, and more particularly, it's about the constitution."

The Council for Better Education, a coalition of school districts, filed the lawsuit in September.

The coalition is asking the court to determine how much the Legislature should fund elementary and secondary education. Lawmakers filed a motion asking for dismissal last month.

Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham heard the arguments from lawyers representing both sides, but did not make a ruling. It remains unclear when Graham will rule.

"I've only looked through this quickly, so of course I will study it and may at that time want to call you back and debate it some more," Graham told the attorneys after the hearing.

Byron Leet, a Louisville attorney representing the council, said while the council is not asking the court to decide on past education budgets, those are relevant.

"We know what has happened over the last few sessions," Leet said.

"And, obviously we have reason to believe that going forward the General Assembly will not adequately fund education."

Overstreet maintained that the courts could not rule on possible future actions by the General Assembly.

"What the council is asking the court to do is sit as the General Assembly and year in and year out decide how much money is going to be spent on education in Kentucky, and that is wrong," Overstreet said. "... They would have Judge Graham be a super-legislator and fix that number. Legislators could just phone it in that day. They wouldn't have to come because it would already be determined."

Graham is also considering a separate lawsuit on behalf of 16 students in eight Kentucky counties that is seeking more money for state education.

That suit has been combined with the council's.




TOP STORIES
State spending reforms sought
Web site will list those who have cheated state
Settlement deal likely in church abuse case
Here's how to keep your number
Cell phone blitz hits Monday
Center for arts will open soon

IN THE TRISTATE
Anderson Twp. considers limiting on-street parking
Blackout blamed on FirstEnergy errors
Butler leaders fire latest volley in E-check battle
'42nd Street' will have you tapping your toes
Three violinists to carry on CCM teaching
Clermont closer to calling two winners from Nov. 4 election
Scores, truants targets at CPS
Hamilton gets into holiday spirit
New police hire brings Loveland special skills
Contact lens wearers would get right to Rx
Norwood honors pharmacist
Road upgrade awaits church sale vote
Loveland drops tax plan for levy
Hospital site to be firmed up in Jan.
Mt. Washington streetscape nearly ready to be dedicated
Schwarzkopf: It starts with character
City joins in multicultural Thanksgiving celebration
Regional Report

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Bronson: Gay marriage is a topic wired with explosives
Howard: Good Things Happening

OBITUARIES
Duncan R. Nutting, 85, was Marine to the core
Kentucky obituaries

OHIO
State education officials suspend assessment tests
Ohio moments

KENTUCKY
Three Ky. arts groups win grants
County wants to buy battlefield
Kentucky News Briefs
Campbell schools eye calendar
Nine women seeking pardons from Patton
Husband guilty in wife's murder
Ex-chairwoman on ethics panel
Judge hears arguments over motion to dismiss schools suit
Another Democrat gunning for Bunning
Eateries, others adopt today's theme: No smoking
Kentucky things to do