West Virginia residents could face higher taxes in the next few years as a result of a judge's decision on school funding. We recommend that state officials use the year they've been given by the court to work out a solution to craft one that equalizes expenditures without adding a new layer of bureaucracy.
The court case that spawned the ruling came out of a 1979 case brought by Dan Hedges, a Charleston lawyer representing Lincoln County. That case went to the Ohio County Circuit Court, where Judge Arthur Recht (now on the state Supreme Court) issued a 1982 order saying that school funding must be equalized throughout the state.
There's been plenty of time to do that, but the measure Recht's order crafted to do that - an excess levy - was rejected by voters in 1984 and 1988. Frustrated by the lack of action, Hedges reopened the case in 1994. The Supreme Court then assigned it to Judge Dan Robinson, a retired Cabell County judge, who has given the state a year to get its act together.