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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.

LOUISIANA

Governor: Edwin W. Edwards (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $4.83 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.87 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.83 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +2.2 percent

Highlights:

The Governor signed into law a bill that would permit the establishment of charter schools in eight school districts.
Legislators rejected a bill that would have abolished the state school board. They also killed a bill that would have required students attending private schools to pass the same exit exam as public school students in order to receive their high school diplomas.
An on-again, off-again one-time pay bonus to many state employees, including teachers and most school workers, was approved after months of legislative and administrative wrangling. The bonus--expected to grant workers an additional 4 percent of their yearly salaries--is being financed by a $125 million payment from the state's first land-based casino, in New Orleans.


NEW HAMPSHIRE

Governor: Stephen Merrill (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $1.564 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $89.4 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $86 million

Percent change: +4 percent

Highlights:

New Hampshire will join the Powerball multi-state lottery in fiscal 1996, under a measure passed by legislators.

The net proceeds will support K-12 and higher education.

The legislature rejected the Governor's plan to provide $5 million to districts that do not currently have kindergarten, a proposal that was intended to help them start offering it.
Lawmakers eliminated the state's $427,500 school-improvement program designed to help districts evaluate local standards.


KANSAS

Governor: Bill Graves (D)

FY 1996 state budget: $7.779 billion. FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.982 billion. FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.929 billion

Percent change: +2.8 percent

Highlights:

The approved budget increases per-pupil spending by almost $30 per pupil, the first such increase since the state's school-finance formula was rewritten in 1992.
The Senate failed to consider a proposal that would have eliminated property taxes as a source of funding for schools, effectively killing a measure that had been approved by the House.


OHIO

Governor: George V. Voinovich (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $16.24 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $4.92 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $4.62 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +6.5 percent

Highlights:

Elementary and secondary school spending increases to $5.2 billion in fiscal 1997, the second year of the state's biennial budget.
The legislature approved a pilot program in Cleveland to make tuition vouchers available to between 1,000 and 2,000 low-income students, who could use them to attend private or religious schools.
A so-called "Robin Hood" plan to shift some state funding from wealthy to poorer districts failed.
Lawmakers expanded the 11-member elected state school board to include eight new members appointed by the Governor.
About $400 million was approved for computers and teacher training as part of a comprehensive technology expansion initiated by the Governor in the last budget.


OKLAHOMA

Governor: Frank Keating (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $5.55 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.41 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.39 billion

Percent change: +1.4 percent

Highlights:

Governor Keating vetoed supplemental amounts sought by the legislature, including about $8 million for K-12 education.
The Governor also vetoed $3 million in state money for Head Start and $2 million for vocational-technical education.
A political struggle between the Governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature blocked distribution of $6 million in special funding to growing school districts.


MAINE

Governor: Angus S. King Jr. (I)

FY 1996 state budget: $1.732 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $534.1 million FY 1995 K-12 budget: $521 million

Percent Change K-12 budget: +2.5 percent

Highlights:

Beginning in July 1997, local income levels and cost-of-living rates will, for the first time, become part of the state formula for school-aid funding. Currently, state aid to schools is based on local property values.
Legislators earmarked $2 million this fiscal year for school systems hardest hit by drops in property values.
Lawmakers also appropriated $2.5 million for a residential science and math magnet school slated to open this fall.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Governor: David M. Beasley (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $4.1 billion FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.7 billion FY 1995 K-12 budget: $1.5 billion

Percent change: +13 percent

Highlights:

A legislative fight to redirect money from the Educational Improvement Act into the state's general revenues failed. Lawmakers voted to keep the $34.6 million increase--a result of revenues from a one-cent sales tax during an economic boom--for the school-improvement program this year.
Lawmakers also increased flexibility in the school-improvement program and eliminated 10 projects. The $9.2 million saved will be funneled into other school-improvement efforts.
The budget also includes a $94 million increase in early-childhood and academic-assistance programs and a $29 million increase in the general education fund due to enrollment increases and inflation.

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