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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of governors' budget requests for pre-collegiate education and highlights of proposals on the states' education agendas.

CALIFORNIA

Governor: Pete Wilson (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $45.24 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $17.67 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $16.90 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +4.6 percent

Highlights:

  • Budget would increase state aid to schools for the second straight year, after five years of cuts or freezes. Nearly $300 million in new money would go to improving school safety, technology, libraries, and reading instruction.
  • Governor proposes funding single-sex magnet schools.
  • Students in the state's worst-performing schools would qualify for state "scholarships" to defray tuition costs at private, religious, or out-of-district schools.

KENTUCKY

Governor: Paul E. Patton (D)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $5.47 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $2.56 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $2.48 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +3.2 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor's budget proposal includes a 2.6 percent pay raise for teachers in addition to increases they would normally get under the state's salary scale.
  • Mr. Patton's two-year budget plan would include a similar increase for fiscal 1998 and would fold a 2.6 percent teacher raise into the second year also.
  • Budget request includes no new money for the school-finance formula.

MICHIGAN

Governor: John Engler (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $8.25 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $242 million
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $522 million
Percent change K-12 budget: -53.6 percent

Highlights:

  • Michigan lawmakers are still seeing huge ripples in the state's general fund appropriation to schools as a result of their 1993 school-finance overhaul. The $242 million in proposed K-12 spending represents the portion of the governor's general-fund budget request targeted for K-12 schools. Another $8.4 billion in fiscal 1997 state aid to schools would come from earmarked tax revenues.
  • Decrease in the governor's general-fund request compensates for a 50 percent hike in earmarking of state income taxes for schools. The state also earmarks property-tax proceeds and lottery income for schools.
  • Total state funding for schools would rise by $273 million under the governor's 1997 budget request.
  • Governor has proposed a tax credit for employers who provide apprenticeship training programs as a way to expand school-to-work efforts.

NEW YORK

Governor: George E. Pataki (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $31.28 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $9.99 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $9.83 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +1.6 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes freezing district operating aid, but state education officials say additional cuts in categorical spending programs would cause overall funding to decline in nearly half of the state's 686 districts.
  • Budget includes legislation requiring at least 60 percent of voters' approval for local tax increases if a district's budget goes up more than the annual inflation rate.
  • Governor proposes a uniform reimbursement rate for special-education students, eliminating the financial incentive for districts to classify students as severely learning disabled.
  • Mandate relief proposed by the governor would save districts more than $300 million. Some state school officials, however, have argued that some of the changes would hurt the quality of instruction.

PENNSYLVANIA

Governor: Tom Ridge (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $16.19 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $5.57 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $5.57 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: No change

Highlights:

  • Budget would cut overall state spending for the first time in 25 years.
  • Governor proposes freezing basic state aid to districts at $3.35 billion, but he also would launch a three-year, $121 million technology program.
  • Proposed mandate relief includes lifting the requirement that districts give sabbaticals to teachers with 20 years' experience.
  • Nearly $43 million earmarked last year to fund tuition grants for private, religious, and public school choice would be used to pay for damage from severe winter storms. Lawmakers last year refused to authorize the controversial voucher program.

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