U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case

Should some cities be able to tax their residents more for the public schools? Does a law restricting their ability to do so run afoul of the U.S. Constitution? The U.S. Supreme Court has declined an opportunity to consider the question.

Here’s an excerpt from a column by James Kilpatrick on the subject, brought to the for by the case of Bergman v. Kansas.

“In one way or another, through its legislature and its various courts, Kansas has been struggling toward “equalization” ever since [Brown v. Board of Education]. In the case just snubbed by the U.S. Supreme Court, he state’s own Supreme Court succinctly explained the state’s most recent effort:

“The changes made by H.B. 2247 included modifications to the weighting components of the finance formula and changes to the authority of certain districts to raise revenue through local ad valorem property taxes. H.B. 2247 modified the funding formula by increasing the Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP), bilingual, and at-risk weightings, phasing in increases in special education funding, eliminating the correlation weighting (while retaining the low enrollment weighting) …”

The question, Kilpatrick says, is whether residents can tax themselves more, or whether their ability to approve increases must be subjected to claims for some measure of egalitarian spending across the state.

Back to Kilpatrick:

“The record in the Kansas case suggests that the state has made Herculean efforts, as a state, to equalize and improve its public schools. Counsel for the petitioners ask the high court: Why should parents in Topeka or Lawrence or Wichita be forbidden voluntarily to enlarge the pot by taxing themselves? The nine justices, perhaps numbed by last week’s argument in school cases from Kentucky and Washington State, would not stay for an answer.”

Source: James J. Kilpatrick, “Two that got away,” Yahoo News, December 13.

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