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'Spending Revolt' in New Hampshire: Governor Calls For 9% School- Aid Cut

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Copyright 1989, Editorial

The cut, one of the few proposed by any governor this year, would reduce precollegiate-education spending to $37 million in fiscal 1990 and $39 million in fiscal 1991. Current spending for K-12 education is $40 million.

Over all, Governor Gregg requested total general-fund spending of $601 million in fiscal 1990--3.1 percent above current spending--and $626 million in fiscal 1991. The relatively modest increases reflect smaller revenue growth resulting from a slowdown in the economy felt throughout New England, Mr. Gregg said.

Commissioner of Education John T. MacDonald acknowledged that the cut reflects "the reality of the fiscal plight of the state."

But, he said, "there will be problems ahead relative to certain shortfalls which may occur in the financial-aid programs," par4ticularly school construction, vocational education, and catastrophic special education.

Mr. Gregg's budget would also cut funding for the Governor's education-initiatives program from $3.6 million to $1.4 million. From the remaining funds, Governor Gregg said in his budget message, "will come some of the most effective ways of assisting our teachers and teaching our gifted children."

To curb costs in rapidly growing areas of the budget, he also proposed a $100 tuition increase for postsecondary vocational-technical schools and established a "complaints investigator" to monitor special education. In addition, Mr. Gregg said he would seek legislation to prevent special-education spending "from spiralling out of control in the future."

Scheduled for an increase is aid under the state's new dropout-prevention program. In a compromise with legislators, the Governor dropped plans to kill the program and instead asked for $900,000 over the biennium for screening potential dropouts.--rr

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