A federal trial challenging Alabama’s school-funding formula started Monday in Huntsville before Judge Lynwood Smith. The suit was filed two years ago by parents in rural north Alabama counties who claim that state funding for the public education system is based on a discriminatory formula that includes the lowest property-tax rate in the country.

“This tax system disadvantages low-income citizens and poor, rural counties,” the complaint said. “Plaintiffs are injured by the racially discriminatory property tax restrictions in the Alabama Constitution, which impede their ability and the ability of their elected representatives to raise state and local revenues adequately to fund the public services they need, including public education.”

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