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Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Raising Teacher Pay

Gov. Raymond Mabus of Mississippi last week signed a bill that will increase the average annual salary of the state's teachers by $3,800.

The bill, which takes effect on Dec. 15, will raise the average salary to $24,550 next year. The hike will move Mississippi from last place to sixth in that category among the 12 Southeastern states, said Cliff Treyens, the Governor's spokesman.

Mr. Mabus, who proposed the raise as the keystone of his education-reform package, called it "a dramatic, positive step for education,'' and said it sends "a strong signal to this country that Mississippi is very serious about public education.''

Although the Governor had proposed making the raise effective Sept. 1, the House voted to move the effective date to Nov. 1 to save the state money. The Senate had favored delaying it until Jan. 1.

Both chambers approved a conference-committee compromise to make the bill effective on Dec. 15.

Prospects for education and tax reforms in Michigan have dimmed following the House's failure last month to approve a proposed constitutional amendment.

The amendment, which would have lowered property taxes and raised the sales tax, fell 13 votes short of the 73 needed for passage.

Gov. James J. Blanchard and fellow Democrats in the House had offered the plan as an alternative to a measure passed by the Republican-controlled Senate that would provide more property-tax relief to businesses and less to homeowners. Both bills also call for a wide range of school reforms.

A Colorado group has launched a petition drive to place on the November ballot a constitutional amendment to create a "tuition voucher'' system.

The proposal would require the state to provide parents with vouchers that could be redeemed for their children's tuition at a public or private school. If a family were to opt for private education, the public school previously attended by the children would lose state aid for those students.

A similar petition drive in 1984 failed to garner the necessary number of signatures.

The idea is being opposed by most major education groups, according to Gordon Heaton, president of the Colorado Education Association.

"We think it's elitist and could lead to discrimination,'' he said.

Wisconsin's new "learnfare'' program has prompted thousands of teen-agers to return to school, state officials report.

The program is scheduled to take effect this month, as officials begin withholding portions of welfare support from the families of truant teen-age parents and 13- and 14-year-olds.

The state released a report late last month indicating that only 327 of the 16,299 teen-agers affected by the new law have not returned to school.

In the second stage of the program, to take effect next September, families of older truant teen-agers will also be affected by the law's provisions.

Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York last week used his line-item veto authority to kill a $50-million appropriation for asbestos removal in schools.

The appropriation was part of the $28.4-billion state budget passed last month, which included a $625-million increase for education.

Strong partisan debate over the budget blocked its passage until mid-April, about three weeks after the start of the state's current fiscal year. A major sticking point had been the asbestos appropriation, which was demanded by the Republican-controlled Senate. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, opposed the appropriation and had promised to veto it.

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