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News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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New York Chief Targets Special Ed. Funds

In an attempt to lessen the financial incentives to refer students with mild disabilities to special education, New York State Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills has proposed revamping the states special education funding system.

While the proposal would require legislative approval and the governor's signature, the state board of regents has backed Mr. Mills' proposal, and the legislature is expected to take up the issue in its new session.

The plan would shift students with slight disabilities into regular classrooms--a goal outlined earlier this year by an independent panel charged with finding ways to improve New York City's troubled special education system.

Some 204,000 of the state's 363,000 students in special education are classified as having learning disabilities. Only 41 percent of the state's special education students are educated in a regular classroom, according to the state education department. ("Panel Urges More Spec.-Ed. Students, Money Go To Regular Classes," Jan. 10, 1996.)

Texas Tax Panel Offers No Answers

After months of studying ways to lower property taxes in Texas, a committee appointed by Gov. George W. Bush concluded its work without offering an answer.

"Identifying problems is easy; solving them is hard," the group's report says. It adds that "substantial public sentiment exists for school property-tax relief."

The Citizen's Committee on Property Tax Relief met around the state to seek alternatives to the $10 billion in local property taxes levied to cover more than half of all school costs.

Mr. Bush said it is now up to the legislature, which convenes its next biennial session in January, to come up with a tax-relief package. Previous discussions of lowering property taxes have inevitably led to discussion of creating a state income tax, which still seems taboo with state lawmakers and the governor.

Last week, Mr. Bush announced that his 1998-99 biennial budget will call for $1 billion in local property-tax relief by cutting costs in other government operations.

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