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An injunction ordered by a Michigan judge has created the first obstacle for a new "tax base sharing" law aimed at easing statewide school-funding disparities.

The judge's ruling last month will allow several wealthy school districts to abstain from the program, which calls for the redistribution of tax revenue from better-off districts to poorer ones.

A taxpayers' group from well-to do Macomb County, just outside Detroit, hailed the decision, calling the school-finance plan adopted this fall by lawmakers and Gov. John M. Engler "socialistic."

Under the tax-base-sharing plan, half of the new tax revenue generated by industrial and commercial ventures in the state's wealthiest school districts would be distributed among poorer districts. The plan was expected to provide $27.2 million to the poor districts in its first year. (See Education Week, Sept. 25, 1991 .)

Supporters of the plan called the ruling a minor setback, but pledged to implement the program. The program was adopted in response to lawsuits challenging the fairness of the school-finance system in Michigan, where per-pupil spending by districts ranges from $2,500 to $8,500.

Opponents of the law had argued before the Macomb County judge that the measure is unconstitutional because it creates new tax revenue without voter approval.

Lawyers representing other wealthy districts are considering similar court challenges to the plan.

A 20-member committee appointed by Alaska's education commissioner to consider school-reform proposals has recommended that new task forces be appointed to study four broad education issues.

The panel included officials in the administration of Gov. Walter J. Hickel, educators, and business and military representatives.

The committee recommended that the Governor appoint task forces to study four broad issues-student outcomes, school finance, facilities, and accountability.

The panel cited a number of other issues that could be examined within those areas, such as school choice, shared decisionmaking, assessment, and technology, said Harry Gamble, a spokesman for the state education department.

Vol. 11, Issue 14, Page 19

Published in Print: December 4, 1991, as News Updates
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