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A Ban on Redistribution of Property Taxes Sought in Ohio

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An Ohio legislator has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would prevent the redistribution of school property taxes regardless of the outcome of an ongoing school-finance battle in the courts.

The resolution proposed by Mike Wise, a Republican assemblyman, has cleared the Ohio House and is awaiting action in the Senate ways and means committee.

Mr. Wise asked the panel to approve the bill despite a recent court ruling that was a victory for supporters of the current finance system.

"What I'm trying to do is set some parameters," he said. "No matter what the court does, this needs to move forward."

A state appeals court ruled Aug. 30 that the current finance system does not violate the state constitution. That decision will be appealed to the state supreme court by the coalition of 500 school districts that filed the original lawsuit in 1991. (See Education Week, Sept. 13, 1995.)

Uncertain Future

Lawyers for those districts have argued that Ohio students receive an inadequate education because schools do not receive enough money from the state.

Republican Gov. George V. Voinovich, however, has warned that a victory by the coalition would mean a huge tax increase.

The Republican chairman of the Senate committee said last week he has reservations about Mr. Wise's bill, adding that it appeared to be full of loopholes. "I am not going to pass a bill that's meaningless," said Sen. Richard H. Finan. "Because then what you do is you give these school districts false hope."

Sen. Finan said the panel might not take action on the bill until next year.

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