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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of final action by legislatures on education-related matters.

ARKANSAS

Governor: Jim Guy Tucker (D)

FY 1994 state budget: $2.22 billion
FY 1994 K-12 budget: $1.27 billion
FY 1993 K-12 budget: $1.24 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +1.8 percent

Highlights:

  • Legislature passed bill requiring the state education department to develop by 1996-97 a comprehensive competency- and outcome-based-assessment program linked to new curriculum frameworks.
  • Also approved measure to make school districts liable for a portion of workers'-compensation claims, in order to give districts a stake in keeping costs down by instituting stronger safety programs and investigating erroneous claims.
  • Governor used line-item veto to eliminate the $2.8 million appropriation for county school supervisors' offices, which provide record-keeping assistance to districts.
  • K-12 budget does not include additional $100 million in revenues generated for the state's Educational Excellence Trust Fund by a half-cent sales tax approved in 1991.


MISSISSIPPI

Governor: Kirk Fordice (R)

FY 1994 state budget: $2.14 billion
FY 1994 K-12 budget: $953 million
FY 1993 K-12 budget: $907.5 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +5 percent

Highlights:

  • Legislature appropriated $18.9 million to reduce the cost of health-insurance premiums for teachers. Beginning in fiscal 1995, the state will pay 100 percent of health-insurance costs, at a cost of an additional $25 million.
  • Legislature also approved measure to increase teacher salaries by at least $550 at each of four certificate levels, in addition to regular pay raises conferred for each year of experience.
  • Legislature appropriated $5.7 million to support mandate that all school districts develop alternative programs for at-risk youths.
  • Not included in K-12 budget figures are projected revenues from a new 1 cent sales tax used to support an Educational Enhancement Fund approved in 1992. For fiscal 1993 the tax is expected to generate an additional $52.4 million for schools, and in fiscal 1994 an additional $93.8 million.


UTAH

Governor: Mike Leavitt (R)

FY 1994 state budget: $2.08 billion
FY 1994 K-12 budget: $1.01 billion
FY 1993 K-12 budget: $942 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +7.1 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor vetoed a school-construction funding bill that relied on a statewide property tax. But the Governor's substitute plan, which raised funds by cutting 35 sales-tax exemptions, was approved during a one-day special session.
  • Governor signed a bill clarifying the religious liberties of students and teachers in public schools. The bill guaranteed, among other freedoms, that students have a right to discuss religion during lunch or between classes.
  • House killed a proposed constitutional amendment that would have replaced provisions dealing with separation of church and state with language that would have allowed tax support for sectarian institutions and permitted state-sponsored prayers at government meetings.

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