Court Throws Out Ark. Property-Tax Measure
A sharply debated initiative that would have abolished property taxes in Arkansas was removed last week from the state's Nov. 3 ballot.
The proposal, Amendment 4, lacked sufficient valid signatures to satisfy the requirements of the state constitution, Chief Justice W.H. "Dub" Arnold of the Arkansas Supreme Court said in a 12-page opinion.
Arkansas education groups breathed a sigh of relief over the decision. According to state estimates, Amendment 4 could have cut $427 million from the $2.1 billion in revenue available to schools in fiscal 1999.
"We will petition for a rehearing and lose," predicted Oscar Stilley, the Fort Smith lawyer who led the initiative drive. "The silver lining is that it gives us some leverage in the legislature."
Arkansas is not the only state that has made property taxes an election-year issue.
South Dakota voters are still set to consider Amendment A, a ballot measure that would bar the use of property taxes to pay for education.
Mary Fulton, a policy analyst for the Education Commission of the States, a policy clearinghouse in Denver, said South Dakota would be the first state to have such a prohibition if the measure passes. "South Dakota doesn't get as much play as a state like California," she said. "But it's a really big deal to the people out there."
--ROBERT C. JOHNSTON
Vol. 18, Issue 8, Page 18