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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.

COLORADO

Governor: Roy Romer (D)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $4.1 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $1.67 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.58 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +5.6 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor opposes legislative proposal that would eliminate compulsory education.
  • He proposes $22 million in incentives for schools to lengthen the academic year or provide new programs for students who fall behind.
  • Governor also proposes expansion of state-funded preschool program by 2,000 slots, to 8,500.

CONNECTICUT

Governor: John Rowland (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $9.09 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $1.496 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.492 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +0.3 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor seeks a $5 million overall reduction in grants to local districts.
  • Mr. Rowland's budget requests the transfer of the $11.3 million birth-to-3 program to the state's mental retardation department.
  • Governor predicts $1 million in overall savings through the proposed merger of the departments of education and higher education.

DELAWARE

Governor: Thomas R. Carper (D)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $1.7 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $555 million
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $530 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +4.7 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes a $7.5 million student-discipline initiative that would create alternative schools and bolster mentoring and after-school programs in schools.
  • Budget also includes $2.3 million to provide Saturday academic programs and summer school instruction to give underachieving students extra time to improve academically.
  • Budget seeks $500,000 for transportation for students who will be participating in school-choice programs or attending charter schools for the first time next fall.
  • Governor calls for $650,000 for professional-development services for teachers, and a 2 percent pay raise for all school employees.

GEORGIA

Governor: Zell Miller (D)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $11.3 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $4.3 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $3.9 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +10.2 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes a 6 percent raise for teachers.
  • Bill championed by the governor would cut staff positions at the state education agency by about one-third and set up a separate agency to run the state's pre-kindergarten program.
  • Mr. Miller would require that high school students qualify for the state's college-scholarship program by posting a B average in core-curriculum courses. Students now qualify if they maintain a B average in all their classes, raising concerns that students are taking easier electives.

IDAHO

Governor: Phil Batt (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $1.411 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $689 million
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $664 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +3.8 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor has ordered state agencies to cut their budgets by 2 percent because of a budget shortfall. Mr. Batt has recommended, however, that public schools be exempted from the cuts.
  • Budget includes $7 million in one-time funding for technology projects.

MISSISSIPPI

Governor: Kirk Fordice (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $2.758 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $1.087 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.076 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +1.0 percent

Highlights:

  • K-12 budget does not include $133 million in education-enhancement funds, which are generated statewide by a 1-cent sales tax.
  • Governor proposed a bill that would allow for the creation of charter schools that would be exempt from most local and state regulations. The proposal did not include any start-up funding. A subcommittee in the legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, has already killed the bill, however.
  • Mr. Fordice proposes moving toward a uniform system of appointed local superintendents and elected local schools boards. Currently some school board members are appointed and some are elected; some boards include mixture of elected and appointed members. County superintendents, meanwhile, are typically elected, while city superintendents are appointed.

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