A flurry of briefs was filed by the June 30th deadline with the Alaska Supreme Court in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s ongoing lawsuit challenging the State of Alaska’s requirement that local governments earmark a certain amount of property taxes for public education.
Borough Attorney Scott Brandt-Erichsen explains that the Constitution stipulates that public funds can’t be dedicated, or earmarked, by the state – revenue has to be appropriated on an annual basis by the Legislature.
The state counters that the required local contribution isn’t state revenue, and that the statute only requires local funding – not necessarily a local tax. But Bockhorst says the only realistic way a local government can raise the mandated millions of dollars every year is through taxes, and that those local taxes are a back-door way for the state to fund schools.
“The state is able to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to adequately fund schools by forcing us to levy what amounts to state taxes,” he says. “We get the blame and they get the benefit.”
With this latest set of briefs filed with the Alaska Supreme Court, each side now has until July 28 to respond in writing. After that, the next important date is Sept. 16. That’s when oral arguments are scheduled with the Supreme Court in Anchorage.