May 13, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Albany, NY – A New York State appeals court on May 5 upheld the dismissal of the New York State United Teachers’ attempt to strike down the state’s cap on local property-tax increases.
The Appellate Division’s Third Department rejected the union’s claim that the tax cap, which limits increases to less than 2% a year, violates pupils’ constitutional rights to equal protection under the law. It said that while the state is required to provide equal opportunity to get an education, it doesn’t have to guarantee equal quality. Differences among school districts, it held, were “a permissible consequence of local control over schools,” because taxpayers in some areas were more willing to pay for better services. Judge Michael Lynch dissented, saying that the equal-protection claim was valid because of disparate school funding and because “taxpayers within the poorer school districts end up subsidizing, at least in part, the tax credits granted to taxpayers within the wealthier districts.” NYSUT is likely to appeal, spokesperson Carl Korn said, adding that Judge Lynch had pointed out “how the glaring inequities exacerbated by the tax cap impact students in the poorest districts of the state." Read more