DeRolph versus the State of Ohio…..a bit of history and reality for seniors

Our focus on the impact of increasing property taxes on our seniors has led us into learning the history of the DeRolph versus the State of Ohio, where the Ohio Supreme Court found that using property taxes as a funding mechanism for funding public education is unconstitutional.  We have written about this before, but lets take another trip down memory lane.

Thanks for Lobbyist Bob Z. for the link to this Wikipedia article on the history of the DeRolph case.

The 1997 Supreme Court ruling was based on unequal funding for school districts that led to unfairness in the quality of education offered to all Ohio students:  “This led to disparities in the quality of education in more affluent districts, where high property values led to greater funding, and urban and rural districts,[1] where low property values left students with funding shortfalls and dilapidated facilities.[6]”

The State legislature enacted House Bill 920 in 1976 that was designed to eliminate increasing property taxes without a vote of the taxpayers simply because home valuations were increasing.  The HB 920 ensured that a tax levy passed under the outside millage brought in the same amount of revenue each year; however, as inflationary pressures, the seemingly unending need for “state of the art” bigger and better facilities, and increased pay, benefits and pensions for teachers bloated the schools’ budgets, they had to go back to the beleaguered taxpayers every 3 – 5 years with new tax levies.

The State of Ohio developed an extremely complex method of “redistribution of the wealth” of State money to each of the 600+ school districts.  Basically, if you are in an “affluent” area where income and home valuations are high you get far less State funds.   This puts a tremendous strain on the local residents to fund their public schools with ever increasing property taxes.

LFC compared  the State, Federal, and local tax revenue spent by each school district to the scores earned on the State’s mandatory “Achievement” tests.  We can tell you, without hesitation, that the amount of funding has very little to do with the quality of education received.  The average spent per pupil in the top performers was far less than the amount spent on the worst performers. [$14,000 versus $20,000]

So 4 decades after H.B. 920, and 2 decades after the DeRolph case, one could legitimately ask if our public schools provide a better education today.  That would be debated forever, without any real resolution because of the emotions brought to the debate.

However, our analysis of the facts and figures of property taxes being used to fund public schools tells us  that it is simply unsustainable.  An even more sobering fact is that seniors and those living on fixed incomes will ultimately be priced out of their homes because of the ever increasing property taxes.

And here is another dose of reality we want seniors to know……if you expect the cavalry to save us, it is not happening…..we are on our own….

State Senator John Ecklund, and State Representative candidate Jamie Callender have stated to us that nothing will be done about the unconstitutional use of property taxes as the funding mechanism for public schools.  Mr. Callender did say to me directly that he would support our efforts, but the public school lobbyists for the special interests are entrenched at the State level.

We have a very fine, dedicated State School Board Representative in Sara Fowler, but she needs our help as she fights for us against a State Board that wants to redefine the values for our children, but she cannot impact the legislation that we need to change the funding for public schools.

We have been told that our only solution is to have a taxpayer initiated  referendum on the State ballot that forces the politicians to change the funding mechanism.  We are trying to muster forces around the State of Ohio to make that happen.  Be aware that we have our own State swamp and the swamp creatures enjoy the status quo, and will fight us at every turn.








Categories: Education, Lake, Real Estate Taxes


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