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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.

FLORIDA

Governor: Lawton Chiles (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $21.1 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $7.5 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $7.0 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +7 percent

Highlights:

Legislature approved $40 million to reduce 1st-grade classes to 20 students for each teacher as the first step in what sponsors envision as a multiyear plan to reduce class sizes in the early grades.
Lawmakers appropriated $20 million for break-the-mold school projects. State officials are still determining what programs to fund and how much aid they will provide to individual projects. Another $20 million was set aside for K-12 programs aimed at reducing the need for remediation in postsecondary schools.
Legislature gave school districts authority for facilities planning and required local health agencies to help districts gain reimbursement for Medicaid services provided to students.

MINNESOTA

Governor: Arne Carlson (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $8.91 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $2.74 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.56 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +7 percent

Highlights:

Legislature approved Governor's plan to abolish the education department and replace it with a Department of Children, Families, and Learning in an effort to coordinate several agencies' work.
Lawmakers also passed a bill giving school districts more discretion over how they spend transportation money, making it possible to use the savings for other programs.
Legislature raised the cap on charter schools from 35 to 40 and granted the schools more flexibility. Efforts to pass a school-voucher plan were turned back by the Senate; the House failed to hold hearings on the issue.
Governor signed a bill aimed at curbing school violence that includes money for drug-abuse-prevention programs, alter-native schools and centers for disruptive or truant students, and more police for secondary schools.

TEXAS

Governor: George W. Bush (R)

FY 1996-97 biennial budget: $45.0 billion FY 1996-97 K-12 biennial budget: $17.2 billion FY 1994-95 K-12 biennial budget: $15.4 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +11.7 percent

Highlights:

Lawmakers approved a new state education code that moves decisionmaking authority from the state education agency to local school districts.
Many of the state's K-12 programs previously paid for through categorical grants will be streamlined into a pair of block grants to districts.
Legislature appropriated $25 million for alternative schools and increased funding by about $170 million for local school-construction projects.
New school-finance system passed by the legislature in 1993, which requires the state's wealthiest districts to share a portion of their property wealth, was upheld by the state supreme court.

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