Does This Really Surprise Anyone?
The school districts acting as the plaintiffs in CEE v. Missouri, which have thus far used more than $3 million of taxpayers’ money to purchase themselves a thorough, well-reasoned judicial beating, have announced their intention to use several million more of your dollars to see if they can persuade the Missouri Supreme Court to take leave of its senses and force taxpayers to give school districts an additional $1.3 billion.
As I have previously mentioned, the insanity of this case is that these districts are spending your money in a misguided effort to get at even more of your money. With this post, however, let’s look at just how deep this money pit could get:
This summer’s trial required public spending in excess of $4 million, accounting both for the districts’ spending and the expense of the state’s legal defense. The plaintiffs’ Supreme Court appeal will cost at least several million more. But that won’t be the end of it! Even if the districts prevail at the Supreme Court, the taxpayers’ financial bleeding will continue because the case will almost certainly be kicked back to the trial court to determine how much taxpayers must add to the 36 percent of state revenues already going to education. That probably means at least one more trial and, in all likelihood, another trip to the Missouri Supreme Court. The eventual total for legal expenses in this case could easily run to $25 million, and that doesn’t even consider the financial burden taxpayers would face if the districts win.
History also shows that even if the suing school districts are successful, the issue will remain embroiled in costly litigation for years as the districts continue to push for more funding. Courts in other states have been forced to confront round after round of these legal battles. A study discussed at our recent school finance conference points out that the billions of dollars in court-ordered educational spending has resulted in zero improvement in the educational outcomes for students in those states.
So I hope that Missouri citizens will enjoy the progress of this case for its entertainment value, if nothing else. After all, we’re the ones paying for it.