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Finney Signs Legislation On School-Finance Reform

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Gov. Joan Finney of Kansas last week signed a school-finance measure that she had previously vowed to veto.

The Governor made clear, however, that she would continue her efforts to ensure that the legislature does not fund the measure by increasing property taxes. (See Education Week, April 17, 1991.)

Ms. Finney, who campaigned on a platform of property-tax relief, had previously said she would not approve the finance-reform plan unless the legislature found some other way to pay for it.

The measure Ms. Finney signed last week will restrain wealthier school districts from raising their budgets, while allowing poorer ones to increase spending in order to bring per-pupil outlays into equilibrium.

But the legislature has yet to pass a measure that would reimburse districts that increase spending.

Lawmakers continue to debate two competing proposals. One, in the Senate, is based on property-tax increases, while the other, in the House, would raise income taxes.

The Maine legislature's plan for relieving financially strapped school districts of meeting state education demands is invalid, according to the attorney general.

In a $170-million supplemental spending bill approved last month, the legislature said application of state mandates "may be deferred by action of a local school board until such time as the state restores state aid to education" to Jan. 1, 1990, levels.

The measure added that such mandates involved pupil-teacher ra8tios, guidance programs, music and art programs, and programs for gifted and talented students.

But Attorney General Michael E. Carpenter noted that state aid as of Jan. 1 was $466 million, set by 1989 allocations that had not yet been superseded by the $521 million lawmakers approved later.

Thus, he wrote, "the mandate-deferral provisions are not triggered by the current level of state funding."

Gov. David Walters of Oklahoma has signed into law a bill that establishes an alternative-certification program to allow professionals to become teachers without a teaching credential.

The alternative-certification program allows anyone with a bachelor's degree and a major in a subject in which certificates are granted to teach in the public schools.

The professionals who participate must earn a standard certificate in no more than three years.

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