News In Brief
A Virginia circuit-court judge has rejected a school-finance-equity lawsuit filed by a coalition of low-wealth school districts in the state.
Virginia's constitution requires the state to provide enough aid to meet "minimum educational standards,'' but not to equalize per-pupil spending between rich and poor districts, Judge Melvin Hughes Jr. ruled last month.
The suit was filed by a group called the Coalition for Equity in Educational Funding, which argued that the wide funding disparities in the state--from $8,000 per student in some affluent communities in Northern Virginia to $3,000 in rural areas--violated the constitution.
Leaders of the coalition indicated they would appeal the decision.
New Jersey lawmakers last week passed a bill to divert money from the state unemployment trust fund to subsidize health care for the poor and uninsured.
The comprehensive health-care package had been developed by Gov. James J. Florio, a Democrat, and the leadership of the Republican majority in the legislature.
Under the bill, about $1.6 billion would be diverted over three years from state unemployment reserves to subsidize health care.
To appease labor unions and other opponents of the measure, the bill includes a payroll tax that will automatically kick in if the unemployment fund falls below $1.5 billion. The current reserve is $2.3 billion.
In return for supporting the bill, the Governor won G.O.P. backing
for a companion bill that requires health-insurance companies to offer
choices of coverage to small businesses and limits the time insurers
can refuse to cover pre-existing conditions.