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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.

NEW JERSEY

Governor: Christine Todd Whitman (R)

FY 1996 state budget: $16 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $4.76 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $4.41 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +8 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor signed a compromise bill creating a program that will penalize districts that are found to spend excessive amounts on administration, beginning next year. The legislature blocked the governor's efforts to impose penalties as part of this year's budget.
  • Governor also signed into law legislation creating a new school report-card program, under which the state will release district- and school-specific information on standardized test scores, graduation rates, and per-pupil expenditures.
  • Governor signed two bills that establish "zero-tolerance" policies for students caught with weapons in schools.
  • Legislature is still debating legislative proposals that would authorize charter schools in the state.

RHODE ISLAND

Governor: Lincoln Almond (R)


FY 1996 state budget: $1.4 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $447.9 million
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $429.4 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +4.3 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor signed into law a measure that forces local school committees to go to court if they want to try to override budget cuts imposed by city and town councils. Previously, school officials could appeal cuts to the state education commissioner, who could order cities to raise taxes and restore the funds in question.
  • The legislature, which had been ordered by a superior-court judge to overhaul the state's school-finance system, was released from that responsibility when the state supreme court upheld the current funding formula on appeal.

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