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Capital Update

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In a bitterly contested decision, the Maryland legislature last week approved a $147 million cut in state education aid by shifting the burden of Social Security payments for teachers and librarians from the state to the county governments.

The proposal had been put forward by Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Democratic leaders in response to a projected $450 million shortfall in the state budget.

The plan passed on a 27-to-17 vote in the Senate and then, in an unusual post-midnight session, was given tentative approval by the House. Final approval was expected late last week.

Backers of the proposal argued that it would not only save the state money but also end an anomaly under which a portion of state aid went disproportionately to affluent areas that can afford to pay their teachers more. (See Education Week, Nov. 11, 1992.)

But the measure was strongly opposed by Montgomery and Prince George's counties, which stand to lose $50 million in state aid. Legislators from the two suburban-Washington jurisdictions had proposed slashing other subsidies to achieve similar savings, but their alternative plans were defeated.

Observers predicted the divisive battle could put an end to the alliance between Baltimore and the Washington area that has long dominated the Maryland legislature.

The joint rules committee of the New Hampshire legislature has expressed objections to a state board of education proposal to eliminate some statewide minimum education standards.

The committee voted 7 to 3 this month to recommend that the board substantially revise its plan to eliminate certain standards, among them pupil-teacher ratios guiding the hiring of assistant principals, guidance counselors, and art, music and physical-education teachers. (See Education Week, Oct. 7, 1992.)

The rules committee's objections were based on both an overall feeling that the standards were being relaxed too much and on a concern that the board did allow the public adequate input into the process, said Richard E. Nusbaum, a lawyer for the rules panel.

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