As states slash aid to local governments, some localities are fighting back--in court.
--In Missouri, the state Association of Counties filed suit after legislators cut millions budgeted for county assessors and inmate cost reimbursements. The association says the cuts violate a 1980 ballot initiative that blocks any cuts in the state share of existing county services.
--Nearly 100 North Carolina localities filed suit against the state's impoundment of $114 million in local taxes last year. Governor Mike Easley claimed that the constitutional need to balance the budget gave him such authority. "The statutes all say that the state shall collect the taxes and then shall distribute the revenue to the towns or municipalities," says Philip Isley, an attorney representing the localities. "It doesn't say 'may' or 'can.' It says 'shall.'"
--The League of Kansas Municipalities and the Kansas Association of Counties took joint action. Before leaving office last year, Governor Bill Graves cut $48 million from three funds. The local governments contend he made the cuts under a statute that applies only to state agencies, not to local governments. The Kansas legislature passed a bill seeking to give Graves retroactive authority for the cuts. So far, none of the cases has been heard but all are on an expedited schedule and will likely be resolved by summer's end.