1035* * * Property Tax Ruled Unconstitutional * * *
- Nov 23, 2005
J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California November 23, 2005
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Texas Property Tax Ruled UnconstitutionalBy APRIL CASTRO, Associated Press Writer, Nov 22, 2005AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court declared Tuesday that the property tax system that supports the state's public schools is unconstitutional, and it gave the Legislature until June 1 to come up with a new way to pay for education. Texas lawmakers have been struggling with the question of school finances for more than a decade, and the latest ruling adds urgency to the dispute.
Money for the $30 billion Texas school system comes primarily from local property taxes and franchise taxes. But both rich and poor school districts contend the system is unfair.
The high court found that overall school funding is adequate and that rich and poor districts have equal access to money. But the justices ruled 7-1 that the funding system amounts to a statewide property tax, which is unconstitutional in Texas.
The plaintiffs argued that the state contribution for local education is insufficient and that in order to meet all state and federal education mandates such as the 22-student per class limit and minimum teacher salaries they must tax at the limit prescribed in Texas law. That, they said, amounts to a single statewide property tax.
The high court did not order state government to spend more money on local education, and declined to offer its own solution.
However, the ruling does require the Legislature to change the manner in which money is collected and distributed. Legislators have tried to amend the constitution to allow a statewide property tax but have always failed to draw enough support.
"This deadline is a real hard, firm deadline," said state Rep. Dan Branch. "At that point, you can't finance schools the same way, you have to make the system constitutional, otherwise you run the risk of not being able to open schools in August."
The Legislature has been unable to agree on a new school finance package during the last two regular sessions and three 30-day special sessions.
Gov. Rick Perry office's had no immediate comment. For the Legislature to act before summer, Perry must call lawmakers back into another 30-day special session.
After the Legislature failed to reach a solution over the summer, Perry named a commission to recommend ways to restructure school finances. It met for the first time Monday.As in all states, and in all government, natural rights belong to the People. Article I of the Declaration of Rights in the California Constitution, Sec. 1 says, "All People are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property..." Now are these natural rights limited only to California? Absolutely not. Even states possessing no initiative process still have such inherent rights within themselves in which to determine their own future affairs as outlined by Congress in our Declaration of Independence, to wit, "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ..."So, if inherent in mankind is the natural right to acquire, possess and protect property, then how is it that government somehow found the "right" to tax that inherent right that is freely granted to all by God? Is this not an attack upon the Scriptural mandate that we render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's! For governments to impose a property tax upon that which is in the preview of God is a clear violation of supposed doctrine of separation of Church and State, just as much as it is for governments to "license" marriages. (God said, "Thou shalt leave thy father and thy mother, and cleave unto they wife." Is this command of God subject to the approval by government licensure? Absolutely not! Such proposal would be blasphemy.) Likewise, we contend that imposing an ungodly tax upon the inherent right to own property is likewise an assault upon God Almighty! -Ron Branson
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