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Legislative Update

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

ALASKA

Governor: Tony Knowles (D)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $2.44 billion FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $660.3 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $642.8 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +2.7 percent

Highlights:

  • Bulk of the Governor's proposed increase for education is due to projected enrollment growth.
  • State budget is under severe strain because of low oil prices and declining oil production in the state.

IDAHO

Governor: Phil Batt (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $1.35 billion FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $664.0 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $620.5 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +7 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor's proposal offers a more modest increase than last year's record 17.5 percent jump, which was made possible by the state's growing economy and was intended to resolve a school-finance lawsuit. The suit appears to be resolved for now, although it may be resurrected with schools facing a $700 million backlog in construction and repairs.
  • Governor's budget includes $10.4 million one-time set-aside proposed for school technology.
  • Mr. Batt has proposed a task force to study how the state can spend its education money more efficiently.

MICHIGAN

Governor: John Engler (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $28.5 billion FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $8.33 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $8.07 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +3.2 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor is calling for a complete rewrite of the state's education code under the supervision of the state board of education, now controlled by elected Republican members.
  • Governor is seeking expansion of the state's charter-schools program.
  • State fiscal 1996 K-12 budget reflects the second year under a new school-finance system that has transferred most school-funding authority to state lawmakers.

MONTANA

Governor: Governor: Marc Racicot (R)

FY 1996-97 proposed state budget: $1.997 billion FY 1996-97 proposed K-12 budget: $928.5 million FY 1994-95 K-12 budget: $898.3 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +3.4 percent

Highlights:

  • The two-year budget would provide funds for enrollment growth and add to a two-year-old equalization formula.
  • Governor wants $16 million for social-service agencies to aid juveniles who are disruptive in school or have been in legal trouble.
  • Governor also asked for $10 million to help finance mental-health programs for youths. Some of that money could be used in school-based programs.

NEBRASKA

Governor: Ben Nelson (D)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $1.71 billion FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $560.1 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $533.0 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +5.1 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor's budget proposes an almost $20 million increase in general state aid, paid for by growth in tax revenue.
  • Aid for special education is expected to increase $6 million, but the Governor has already signaled his intent to change the state's special-education funding mechanism in the 1997 fiscal year.

RHODE ISLAND

Governor: Lincoln Almond (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $2.5 billion FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $383 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $363 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +5.5 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposing that $19 million for districts with high numbers of poor children.
  • Remaining $1 million would be set aside to help schools use technology in the classroom.
  • Legislators are also introducing bills this year that would authorize a limited number of public charter schools.

TENNESSEE

Governor: Don Sundquist (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $12.97 billion FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $2.38 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.26 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +5.4 percent

Highlights:

  • Despite a drop in the state's overall budget from fiscal 1995, education spending would rise.
  • Governor is requesting $5 million to begin the court-ordered equalization of teachers' salaries.

WISCONSIN

Governor: Tommy G. Thompson (R)

FY 1996 proposed state budget: $8.25 billion FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $2.74 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.48 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +10 percent

Highlights:

  • State aid for public schools rises to $3.54 billion in fiscal 1997, the second year of proposed biennial budget; goal is to increase its share of school funding, now at 50 percent, to 67 percent by 1997.
  • Governor also has proposed establishing a state school board.
  • Governor seeks to expand Milwaukee school choice program to include religious schools.

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