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Timeline

The history of the school funding debate goes almost as far back as the history of school funding itself. From the early days of The Akron School Plan, citizens have debated  the roles of government, proper citizenship, and parents in an organized public school system.

1821 Ohio levies its first property tax
1846 The Rev. Isaac Jennings of Akron leads a committee that develops a plan to run and finance the city's public schools. The Akron School Plan - which created school districts governed by a locally elected board and financed by property taxes - remains largely in effect today.
1935 Ohio enacts a 3 percent sales tax, boosting state support for schools to nearly 50 percent of districts' operating costs.
1971 Ohio enacts its first income tax, with a portion going to primary and secondary education.
1975 Ohio creates the equal-yield formula, which tries to close the financing gaps between rich and poor school districts.
1976 Lawmakers pass House Bill 920, which prohibits property tax collections from rising with inflation.
1979 The Ohio Supreme Court upholds the state school-funding system, rejecting a challenge filed by the Cincinnati school district.
1980 State lawmakers create emergency loan fund and prohibit school districts from closing for financial reasons, forcing troubled districts to go deeper into debt; eliminate equal-yield formula.
1984 Legislators approve Gov. Richard Celeste's proposal for a 10-year, phased-in reduction of the tangible property tax and pass bill guaranteeing that lottery profits go to education.
1992 Gov. George Voinovich, in his 1992-93 biennial state budget, creates the equity fund for poorer schools.
1994 Perry County Common Pleas Judge Linton Lewis Jr. rules against Ohio's school-funding system, but is later overruled by a higher court.
1997 Ohio Supreme Court declares system of school funding unconstitutional. (see timeline below)
1998 Legislature and Voinovich enact new funding plan. Voters defeat half-percent sales tax and a proposal to sell bonds for school construction to pay for it. Coalition of schools returns to court, arguing that the solution was inadequate.
1999 Lewis rejects state's response.

School Funding Debate Timeline
from the Cincinnati Enquirer

March 24, 1997 Ohio Supreme Court rules the state's school-funding system is inadequate and unconstitutional. The 4-3 decision gives state lawmakers a year to overhaul the system by reducing the reliance on local property taxes.
July 1, 1997 After months of public hearings and closed-door meetings, Gov. George Voinovich unveils a plan to address the court decision.  It would ask voters to approve a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase, with the proceeds ear-marked for schools.
Aug. 2, 1997 A coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans blcoks a Senate approved version of Mr. Voinovich's plan in the Ohio House.
Aug. 23, 1997 Mr. Voinovich signs into law tougher academic and financial standards drafted to help sell his sales-tax proposal.
Sept. 18, 1997 As state lawmakers grapple with court-ordered changes in the state's school-funding system, the Ohio Public Expenditure Council reports that property owners will pay a record $ 5.9 million to run schools.
Oct. 4, 1997 The Ohio Poll shows 63 percent of those surveyed support raising the state sales tax to 6 percent from 5 percent to aid schools.  Thirty-five percent were opposed and 2 percent didn't have an opinion.
February, 1998 General Assembly approves new formula for funding schools.  It increases basic aid per pupil and state money for school buildings, buses and special services, but falls short of recommendations by a national school-finance consultant. 

The General Assembly revives the penny sales tax plan but changes the way the proceeds would be spent.  If voters approve, the $ 1.1 billion raised annually by Issue 2 would be split evenly between schools and undefined property tax breaks for homeowners. 

Lawmakers also put Issue 1 on the ballot.  The proposed constitutional amendment would allow the state to lower its borrowing costs by issuing general obligation bonds to finance school construction and repairs.

March, 1998 Responding to complaints from constituents, lawmakers rush to approve a proposed tax credit of up to $ 275 for property taxes charged if Issue 2 passes.
May 5, 1998 Ohio voters defeat Issue 2.