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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.

ARKANSAS

Governor: Jim Guy Tucker (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $2.53 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.19 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.13 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +5.3 percent

Highlights:

Legislature approved a bill that will impose a 10 percent income-tax surcharge on districts that fail to levy a minimum property-tax rate of 25 mills.
Voters will decide in November 1996 whether to adopt a constitutional amendment that would allow districts to share revenue for maintenance and operations statewide. Another amendment would require districts to levy a minimum of 25 mills for maintenance and operations.
The public will also vote on a $3.5 billion highway-expansion program that the Governor has said is vital to Arkansas's economic stability and future education funding.
Legislature's biennial budget allocates as much as $1.32 billion to K-12 education for fiscal 1997.


MISSISSIPPI

Governor: Kirk Fordice (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $2.68 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.08 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.05 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +3 percent

Highlights:

In addition to the general-fund K-12 budget, 1 cent of the state's sales tax is earmarked for the state's education-enhancement fund and is expected to generate $189 million. The money will be used for general K-12 education expenditures and property-tax relief.
Teachers received salary increases based on education and experience levels. The legislature also approved a separate measure that increases the salary of attendance officers by $700 each and raises their travel allowances.
Lawmakers authorized spending $300,000 to create a state Center for Educational Analysis that will track information on education issues.


MONTANA

Governor: Marc Racicot (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $969 million FY 1996 K-12 budget: $413 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $409 million

Percent change K-12 budget: +1 percent

Highlights:

Beyond the basic appropriation, another $3.5 million was approved to pay for school building projects on an equalized formula.
Legislature refused federal funding to participate in the Goals 2000 program.
Increase in aid to schools will accommodate Montana's rising enrollment, which is expected to go up by 6,000 students next fall.
Voters will decide in November 1996 whether to consolidate governance of the state's higher-education and K-12 systems.


UTAH

Governor: Michael O. Leavitt (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $2.58 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.24 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.11 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +11.7 percent

Highlights:

State increased its share of school funding after a property-tax-relief measure cut the local share by about $90 million.
Teachers will receive an average raise of about 4 percent.
Lawmakers approved a new program for teaching values in schools.

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