News in Brief
Budget Veto To Force Special Session in Ala.
Alabama Gov. Fob James Jr. was expected last week to veto the $884 million general-fund budget backed by the legislature, ensuring that a special legislative session will be held this summer. The governor did approve the $3.5 billion education budget.
Alfred Sawyer, a spokesman for the Republican governor, said he cannot accept the budget because it includes what he considers a $4 million "slush fund." The money was "set aside for legislators to use in whatever way they wanted," Mr. Sawyer said.
The special session of the Democrat-controlled legislature would be called in August, he said. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
The education budget provides a 4 percent pay raise for teachers and other public school employees and for employees of two-year colleges. It also includes a $5 million appropriation for "community services grants" the governor deemed wasteful, Mr. Sawyer said. But lawmakers agreed to an amendment requiring that the money be spent on K-12 public schools only and that each proposed use of the funds earn the approval of the state superintendent of education.
Bus transportation in Idaho school districts that contract out for the service is 27 percent more expensive, measured in terms of cost per mile, than in districts that operate their own fleets, a legislative report concludes.
Contractors pay some taxes that school districts are exempt from, such as sales taxes, state diesel-fuel taxes, property taxes, and income taxes. And a private company's costs also include a profit margin, notes the report released last month by the legislature's office of performance evaluation.
The report says the state would have paid districts $709,000 less in the 1994-95 school year if it had reimbursed contracting districts for only the types of expenses also incurred by districts that run their own buses. The state spent a total of $37.3 million on local transportation costs that year.
But the researchers say they could not conclude that contracting out for transportation was more expensive or less efficient, because they were unable to accurately compare total costs for both types of transportation programs.