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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.

ARKANSAS

Governor: Jim Guy Tucker (D)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $2.56 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $1.19 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.13 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +5.3 percent

Highlights:

  • In response to a court order, Governor proposed a revolutionary change in state's school-finance system that would create regional school districts to oversee local property taxes. Plan would also make teacher salaries a state expense.
  • Increased spending estimate reflects a projection of increased revenue, not a tax increase.

DELAWARE

Governor: Thomas R. Carper (D)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $1.59 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $527 million
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $496 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +6.2 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposed a 5 percent cap on increases in spending for most agencies to reserve funds for a tax-cut bill the legislature will consider this year.
  • Mr. Carper proposed a slightly higher 6.2 percent increase in the public education budget, including a $20 million boost in teacher salaries and a $500,000 increase for early-childhood programs.

FLORIDA

Governor: Lawton Chiles (D)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $14.97 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $5.48 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $5.22 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +5.0 percent

Highlights:

  • Budget does not include $573 million the Governor is requesting from the state's lottery proceeds for K-12 schools, a slight drop from this year's lottery appropriation because of lower projected proceeds.
  • Deregulation proposals being debated include trimming the state's school code and transferring more authority to local school-accountability councils.
  • Governor has indicated an interest in calling a special session this year to deal with tax-reform and school-improvement issues.

MARYLAND

Governor: Parris Glendening (D)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $7.43 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $2.29 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.16 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +6.1 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor's budget includes $64.4 million in aid to school districts experiencing increases in enrollment.
  • Governor has proposed to shift $17 million from the state health department to the education department to pay for increases in special-education services.
  • He has also recommended a $31 million boost in spending on teachers' retirement benefits, a $3 million increase for school transportation, and a $2.9 million boost for programs that serve limited-English-proficient students.

MASSACHUSETTS

Governor: William F. Weld (R)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $16.7 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $2.23 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.06 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +8.25 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes a $238 million increase in state education aid to cities and towns to help them implement a 1993 education-reform law.
  • He also proposes reform of special education, saying Massachusetts leads the nation with proportion of its students--17 percent--in such programs. He proposes to adopt the federal definition of disability and to give school districts 90 days to show that a child who is a candidate for special education could be as well served in regular classrooms.
  • Budget includes $2.5 million for start-up grants for charter schools scheduled to open in the fall.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Governor: Stephen Merrill (R)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $1.558 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $76.23 million
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $86 million
Percent change K-12 budget: -11 percent

Highlights:

  • Education budget would be essentially level-funded under Governor's proposal; decrease reflects the absence of a one-time $10 million supplement approved for fiscal 1995 as a part of a budget compromise.
  • Governor has proposed rewriting the state's school-aid formula to assist property-poor districts. Communities unable to levy enough tax revenue to spend $4,000 per student per year would receive additional state support, while more affluent districts would not.
  • Districts that were not operating kindergartens as of January 1995 would receive one-time payments of $2,400 per pupil to launch kindergarten programs, under a five-year plan proposed by Governor. Districts already providing kindergarten would receive $150 for each pupil enrolled in kindergarten.

OKLAHOMA

Governor: Frank Keating (R)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $5.55 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $1.39 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.39 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: 0 percent

Highlights:

  • Despite calling for an increase in spending on K-12 education in his February State of the State address, Governor has proposed level funding.
  • A bill to designate the state's 8th-grade criterion-referenced tests on core subjects as a "literacy passport," and have high school diplomas carry that designation for students who passed, was rejected by a House subcommittee after winning Senate approval. The proposal could be reconsidered as part of another bill.
  • State and local officials were awaiting word last week on whether pipeline and utility companies would release $63 million in disputed property taxes, about $43 million of which is owed to schools.

PENNSYLVANIA

Governor: Tom Ridge (R)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $16.1 billion
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $5.7 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $5.5 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +3.6 percent

Highlights:

  • Mr. Ridge proposes a $38.5 million pilot program that would offer tuition vouchers to parents sending their children to private or religious schools.
  • Budget plan would guarantee each of the state's 501 school districts at least a 1 percent increase in state aid.
  • Legislature will consider Governor's $1 million initiative to offer charter-school planning grants.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Governor: William Janklow (R)
FY 1996 proposed state budget: $590.0 million
FY 1996 proposed K-12 budget: $190.4 million
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $184.9 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +3 percent

Highlights:

  • Fiscal 1996 budget proposal was prepared by former Gov. Walter D. Miller before he left office at the end of 1994.
  • Governor Janklow has emphasized the necessity of property-tax relief; residents have repeatedly sought ballot measures limiting local property taxes, but several have been rejected by voters.

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