Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Texas Supreme Court close to a decision

For the legal buffs out there, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson said recently that the Court will rule in the next two weeks whether or not the Texas public school-finance system is constitutional or not.

Via Texas state Representative Aaron Pena and Off the Kuff, from the AP:

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson said he expects the court to issue a ruling in the troublesome school funding case within two weeks.

"I can't say it will be definitive," Jefferson said in Saturday's online edition of the Midland Reporter-Telegram. "There will be a decision from the court and the Legislature will do what it does."

The state's high court took on the issue when the state appealed a lower court ruling that said the method Texas uses to pay for public education is unconstitutional.

State District Judge John Dietz ruled the system unconstitutional and set an Oct. 1 deadline for the state to overhaul the system. Jefferson said the Supreme Court will work to meet that deadline.

In the last three years, the Legislature has failed five times to find an agreeable solution — one that would replace local property taxes with another form of revenue, likely from new taxes.

The last special session ended in failure on Aug. 19 and it is widely expected that Gov. Rick Perry will call lawmakers back to try it again once the state has guidance from the court.

This will be a major decision. Because Texas is one the largest states, with one of the most diverse populations, this decision will reverberate out to other state and district courts and will either embolden or slow down other schools and districts considering similar legislation. The particulars of the decision (is facilities funding adequate, is overall spending equitable, is there enough money to support the teaching of the state's high standards, etc.) will be extremely important.


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