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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of governors' budget requests for precollegiate education and highlights of proposals on the states' education agendas.

GEORGIA

Governor: Zell Miller (D)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $10.7 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $3.7 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $3.4 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +8.8 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes increasing teacher salaries by 6 percent each year over the next four years in an effort to reach the national average.
  • Governor wants schools to issue "warranties" guaranteeing additional publicly financed training for graduates who lack certain basic skills.
  • Budget would provide state-financed preschool for all 4-year-olds.
  • Mr. Miller also proposes revising a 1993 charter-school law to make establishing such schools easier.

KANSAS

Governor: Bill Graves (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $3.46 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $1.656 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.622 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +2.2 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor recommends a 4.7 percent increase in state aid for special-education services.
  • His budget priorities include an increase in basic state aid for K-12 education, from $3,600 per pupil to $3,630.
  • The budget would expand a parent-education program from 198 to 212 school districts.

NORTH CAROLINA

Governor: James B. Hunt Jr. (D)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $10.118 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $4.06 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $4.04 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +.5 percent

Highlights:

  • Proposed budget includes funds to reduce the average 1st-grade class size to 23.
  • Governor calls for the automatic expulsion of children caught in school with weapons or drugs.
  • Lawmakers are considering legislation that would force the state department of education to cut its personnel by as much as 50 percent.

OHIO

Governor: George V. Voinovich (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $16.4 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $4.8 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $4.6 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +4.3 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes eliminating a property-tax exemption to generate an additional $33 million for schools.
  • Budget includes school-funding change that would shift $32.5 million to poor districts from schools in the state's wealthiest areas.
  • Legislature is debating a bill calling for a statewide referendum to approve a $1 billion bond issue for school repairs and construction.

VERMONT

Governor: Howard Dean (D)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $724.3 million
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $211.0 million
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $194.3 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +8.6 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor wants a $17 million increase in state aid to education, contingent on the legislature's passing his property-tax-reform bill. Under the proposal, a minimum local property-tax rate would be set, and towns with disproportionately high property wealth and low taxes would be required to share their revenue with less wealthy communities. Increases in local spending on education would also be capped under the proposal.
  • Governor also proposes sending the responsibility for teachers' retirement programs back to the local level and distributing the state's $26 million annual contribution to these programs to school districts through the regular school-funding formula.

WEST VIRGINIA

Governor: Gaston Caperton (D)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $2.28 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $1.26 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.23 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +2.4 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes to spend $18 million in state-lottery revenues on the state's school-building program.
  • Budget proposal includes a $10 million increase for computer-skills program.
  • State teachers' retirement fund would receive a $183 million contribution under the proposed budget.

WYOMING

Governor: Jim Geringer (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $500.57 million
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $250.71 million
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $230.92 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +8.6 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor is seeking a one-time $4.7 million increase for the state's foundation fund to cover escalating school costs.
  • Despite the proposed change in the state K-12 budget, state officials expect education funding to remain steady if it passes, because the state increases would be offset by decreases in local contributions.

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