News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Election Battle Delays Decision On Federal Education Spending
Congress and the White House agreed last week to postpone a final decision on federal education spending for fiscal 2001 until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Congressional leaders said they wanted to wait for a resolution of the presidential election before moving forward on their remaining unfinished business.
Appropriators and the White House had worked out a deal on the spending bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education late last month, but GOP leaders scuttled the plan, citing concerns over proposed workplace-health regulations that were unrelated to education. ("Congress Delays Education Budget Decision," Nov. 8, 2000.)
It was unclear last week whether lawmakers would try to revise the education-related provisions of that deal, which included a record budget increase for the Department of Education, or let them stand.
At the outset of the lame-duck session last week, the House and the Senate approved a "continuing resolution" that will keep government agencies running until Dec. 5.
—Erik W. Robelen
Court Won't Hear Case On Property Taxes
U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear the appeal of a group of Michigan vacation-home owners that objected to the state's homestead exemption for school property taxes.
Citizens for Uniform Taxation, which filed the class action on behalf of 4,000 property owners whose permanent residence is outside Michigan, claimed the homestead exemption violates the privileges-and-immunities clause and the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The tax exemption applies to state citizens' principal residences.
The group charged that the exemption allowed greater taxation of property owners who cannot vote on property taxes and cannot take advantage of the schools those taxes pay for. But two state courts ruled that the homestead exemption does not treat nonresidents differently, since Michigan residents also must pay school property taxes on second homes.
The Supreme Court declined without comment on Nov. 13 to hear the appeal in Citizens for Uniform Taxation v. Northport Public School District (Case No. 00-469).
Vol. 20, Issue 12, Page 26