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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.

FLORIDA

Governor: Lawton Chiles (D)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $15.5 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $5.99 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $5.60 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +7 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor's request would amount to a 1.5 percent increase in state aid per pupil.
  • Budget request includes $40 million for full state funding of instructional materials for Florida classrooms.
  • Legislature is expected to seriously debate bills aimed at creating charter schools in the state and will look at expanding a program designed to lower student-teacher ratios in early elementary grades.

ILLINOIS

Governor: Jim Edgar (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $16.97 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $4.10 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $3.88 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +5.7 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor asked lawmakers to consider revamping the state's school-finance system based on recommendations from a task force he had appointed. A finance overhaul, however, is not expected this session.
  • Budget seeks an additional $15 million for classroom technology, which would double spending on the program.
  • Mr. Edgar's request would also concentrate more money on programs for young children, calling for a $3 million increase in the state's early-intervention efforts and a $10 million boost in pre-school funding.

KANSAS

Governor: Bill Graves (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $7.8 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $1.99 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.98 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +1.67 percent

Highlights:

  • Legislature will resume deliberations later this month on whether to extend for one year a statewide property-tax levy for funding of K-12 education, which the Senate has voted to discontinue. Governor has said he will call a special legislative session on the taxation issue if it is not resolved in the regular session. Senate also voted not to extend provisions in the law that give local districts the option of raising taxes above the state-mandated minimum to pay for education.
  • Conservatives in the Senate also have added a provision to the school-finance measure that would require schools to encourage abstinence from sex for young people.
  • Conservatives are backing so-called parental-rights legislation that would give parents more authority in such areas as exempting their children from certain classes or changing their school placements.
  • Governor has signed into law a bill that requires students to meet minimum admissions standards for acceptance to state universities.

VERMONT

Governor: Howard Dean (D)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $717 million
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $224 million
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $216 million
Percent change K-12 budget: +3.7 percent

Highlights:

  • Governor proposes increasing education funding by distributing general state aid for municipalities through the formula for state education aid.
  • Budget request would restore $5 million for the state teachers' retirement plan that was cut in a budget adjustment last year.
  • Mr. Dean requested $500,000 to follow up on an earlier computer initiative and ensure that all of the state's schools have the hardware necessary for access to the Internet.

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