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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of final action by legislatures on state education budgets and other education-related matters.

ARIZONA

Governor: Fife Symington (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $4.54 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.77 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.66 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +6.6 percent

Highlights:

Governor's plan to allow the state to take over failing school districts was defeated after facing strong opposition from groups representing school boards and administrators.
Legislature also killed Governor's school-voucher proposals.
Lawmakers rejected the lone bill addressing school-finance inequities that were ruled unconstitutional by state supreme court last year. It would have set aside $30 million in state-land funds to help districts whose tax bases do not allow them to build new schools or remodel old ones. Education groups criticized the plan as inadequate. Legislature is expected to hold special session in the fall to rework the formula.


GEORGIA

Governor: Zell Miller (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $9.86 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $3.7 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $3.4 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +8.8 percent

Highlights:

Lawmakers appropriated $420 million in lottery revenues, earmarked for college scholarships, school technology, and expansion of pre-kindergarten program to serve all 4-year-olds.
General-fund budget includes $12.8 million to hire technology specialists in schools, new funds to expand youth-apprenticeship programs, and money for alternative programs to serve disruptive students.
Legislature approved planning grants for 10 charter schools.
Also approved salary adjustment of 6 percent for teachers and 5 percent for state-paid school-bus drivers and cafeteria workers.


IDAHO

Governor: Phil Batt (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $1.35 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $664 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $620.5 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +7 percent

Highlights:

State sales-tax revenues will be used to generate about $40 million in property-tax relief. Local maintenance-and-operation levies will be reduced by about 25 percent under the new law.
Legislature created a new department of juvenile corrections to address juvenile-justice issues. It also approved bill requiring the expulsion and immediate suspension of any student caught carrying a concealed weapon on school grounds.
Lawmakers approved $7 million for substance-abuse programs in schools, using revenues generated by new cigarette tax enacted last year.


INDIANA

Governor: Evan Bayh (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $7.28 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $2.51 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.39 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +5.0 percent

Highlights:

Governor's proposed new $100 million testing system was killed by Republican lawmakers. Key components of the test will be included in the current test, which will cost $24.8 million over the next biennium.
Legislature appropriated $20 million for technology grants, $12.5 million of which will be given to schools to spend at their discretion.
School-discipline bill was approved that makes it easier to suspend or expel a student. Suspensions once limited to five days can be increased to 10 days, and teachers can bar students from their areas of supervision for up to five days.
Safe-schools legislation was approved, complying with federal law. Fines will be assessed for crimes committed with weapons. The proceeds will go the schools to be used for purchasing metal detectors and other safety equipment. The law would also allow schools to adopt dress codes.


MARYLAND

Governor: Parris Glendening (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $7.45 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $2.30 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.17 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +6.0 percent

Highlights:

Legislature approved $64 million increase in basic education funding to compensate for student-enrollment increases.
Governor signed bill that will boost retirement benefits for teachers by $30 million. The budget law also will increase funding for school maintenance and construction.
Governor signed legislation that requires law-enforcement officials to notify local superintendents within 24 hours if students in their districts are arrested for violent crimes.


NORTH DAKOTA

Governor: Edward T. Schafer (R)

FY 1995-97 state budget: $1.35 billion FY 1995-97 K-12 budget: $500.6 million FY 1993-95 K-12 budget: $468.3 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +6.9 percent

Highlights:

Governor signed a school-finance measure that shifts some state funding from property-wealthy school districts to poor districts. Law allocates $14.2 million from the state's biennial budget specifically for property-poor districts. Of that, $2.2 million is designated for a supplemental equity fund that will be allocated outside the state's basic-aid formula.
Finance law also changes special-education funding from a system of reimbursing for expenses incurred to one of lump-sum payments to districts based on enrollment.


WYOMING

Governor: Jim Geringer (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $490.4 million FY 1996 K-12 budget: $256.9 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $228.6 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +12.4 percent

Highlights:

Legislature approved a one-time, $4.7 million increase for the state foundation fund to cover escalating school costs while state awaits outcome of a school-equity lawsuit.
Over all, local districts will not see any more money than they did last year, despite rise in the state K-12 budget. Foundation formula is designed to increase the state allocation to offset estimated decrease in local contributions.
Fiscal 1996 figures are estimates for the first year of Wyoming's biennial budget.

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