News In Brief
Gov. Pete Wilson of California has vetoed legislation that would have made it easier for school districts to levy a certain kind of property tax.
The bill, passed by the legislature this month, would have allowed districts to impose parcel taxes with the approval of a simple majority of local voters, instead of the two-thirds vote needed to approve "special taxes'' under California law.
Parcel taxes are property taxes under which landowners pay the same amount regardless of their property's assessed value.
In his veto message, Mr. Wilson said he supports the effort to give local districts discretionary revenue-raising authority, which would promote "accountability between school boards and their constituents, and among local educators, parents, and taxpayers.''
But, he said, the legislation would violate provisions of the state constitution governing "special taxes,'' as well as a 1978 state supreme court decision, in Serrano v. Priest, which found that the state's property-tax system produced unconstitutional inequities among school districts.
The Governor vetoed a similar measure last year.
"The fact remains that a small minority of voters, 33.4 percent, can prevent the majority from raising local taxes to help community schools,'' Charity Webb, the president of the California School Boards Association, said in a statement.
The West Virginia legislature last week approved using a portion of existing sales-tax funds to maintain currently unfunded school-construction projects.
Lawmakers met in a two-day special session called by Gov. Gaston Caperton, who urged them to restore funds to the state School Building Authority.
The session was made necessary by a state supreme court ruling this year that froze a $320 million construction-bond sale by the S.B.A. The court cited unconstitutional and illegal business practices that included improper bidding procedures and failure to receive voter approval when acquiring long-term debt.
In the ruling, the court narrowed the methods the state can use to fund long-term construction bonds for such programs.
In response, legislators voted to dedicate $12 million a year from existing sales-tax revenue to the S.B.A., which will use those funds to sell construction bonds.
The sales-tax revenues will be appropriated for the next 30 years, the time estimated to pay off the S.B.A.'s bond-sale debts.