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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.

ALABAMA

Governor: Fob James Jr. (R)
FY 1996 state budget: $9.26 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $2.25 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.1 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +7 percent

Highlights:

  • The total state budget includes all federal, state, and local funds that are deposited to the state treasury. The state does not break them down by source.
  • Lawmakers approved the governor's school-finance plan, which will phase in a new formula giving low-wealth school districts more state aid while reducing aid to property-rich districts. School districts will also have greater flexibility in how to spend their state aid. The governor's plan calls for no new spending.
  • The legislature also passed an accountability bill that requires the state to take over districts that fail to meet specified academic-achievement or financial-management standards. It also requires schools to provide instruction in values such as patriotism, citizenship, fairness, and honesty.
  • Lawmakers also embraced a new test that Alabama education students must pass before they can graduate and be certified as teachers. Out-of-state applicants for Alabama teaching positions must pass a similar test.
  • The legislature approved a $170 million bond issue for capital projects in K-12 schools.

CALIFORNIA

Governor: Pete Wilson (R)
FY 1996 state budget: $43.4 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $16.4 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $15.5 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +5.8 percent

Highlights:

  • The K-12 budget includes the first increase in state aid per pupil in four years, boosting per-child funding by $126, to $4,435. The budget also includes a 2.7 percent cost-of-living increase for general and categorical programs.
  • The budget includes $360 million that will be distributed to schools next fall if a settlement is reached in a lawsuit questioning the legality of state-aid payments made in the form of loans in the state's fiscal 1993 and 1994 budgets.
  • Lawmakers set aside $26 million for a new testing program yet to be approved by Gov. Wilson. The budget also includes $20 million to expand preschool programs.

MASSACHUSETTS

Governor: William F. Weld (R)
FY 1996 state budget: $16.02 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $2.25 billion
FY 1995 K-12 budget: $2.02 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +11 percent

Highlights:

  • The budget includes a $239 million increase in state education spending, including a $10 million increase in funding for early-childhood education.
  • The legislature did not pass any major education legislation this year, although the state has begun implementing parts of its comprehensive 1993 school-reform law.

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