Published Online: March 5, 1997

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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of governors budget requests for schools and highlights of proposals on the state education agendas.

ARKANSAS

Governor:
Mike Huckabee (R)

FY 1998 proposed state budget:
$2.80 billion

FY 1998 proposed K-12 budget:
$1.33 billion

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$1.26 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+5.6 percent

Estimated enrollment:
451,900

Highlights:

  • Gov. Huckabee gave up on his plan to end state sales tax on food. With extra revenue to dole out, he added $20 million to his original K-12 fiscal 1998 budget and $10 million to his plan for fiscal 1999.
  • Mr. Huckabee's proposal for K-12 funding in 1999 is $1.37 billion, a 3 percent increase over his 1998 recommendation.
  • Legislature is debating how it should distribute money from property-tax revenues voters approved last fall to pay for school programs.

INDIANA

Governor:
Frank O'Bannon (D)

FY 1998 proposed state budget:
$7.38 billion

FY 1998 proposed K-12 budget:
$2.62 billion

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$2.60 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+0.8 percent

Estimated enrollment:
985,100

Highlights:

  • Gov. O'Bannon proposed eliminating state's fees for textbooks, seeking $55 million in fiscal 1998 to provide those funds.
  • Governor's plan would set aside $47 million to be distributed to schools based on their levels of student performance.
  • Budget also proposes $12.5 million to go toward an alternative schools program.
  • Governor's plan includes charter school proposal that would grant funding from local districts to create and finance schools that would get state money and operate outside of school board control in exchange for promising to meet certain performance goals.

IOWA

Governor:
Terry E. Branstad (R)

FY 1998 proposed state budget:
$4.30 billion

FY 1998 proposed K-12 budget:
$1.93 billion

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$1.86 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+3.8 percent

Estimated enrollment:
505,600

Highlights:

  • Without mentioning statewide standards, which Iowa has shunned, governor proposes establishing a Commission on Educational Excellence for the 21st Century. By next September, the panel would recommend benchmarks for school progress and make suggestions for improving public schools.
  • Gov. Branstad's budget includes $30 million for second year of five-year, $150 million school-technology-improvement program.
  • Governor would establish "IowA+" program to redesign a limited number of high schools, starting with up to four over the next year.
  • Seed money would go to program aimed at providing volunteer mentors to all at-risk elementary and middle school students.

RHODE ISLAND

Governor:
Lincoln Almond (R)

FY 1998 proposed state budget:
$1.8 billion

FY 1998 proposed K-12 budget:
$503.1 million

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$488.0 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+3.1 percent

Estimated enrollment:
151,800

Highlights:

  • Governor is also recommending adding $2.2 million to fiscal 1997 spending, tapping $500,000 in surplus funds and adding about $1 million for state program that reimburses districts' construction costs.
  • To address concerns over inequities, Gov. Almond proposes new funding formula for schools. While current formula reimburses districts based on their past expenditures, proposed system would be based on current enrollments and would increase aid by 50 percent for students who qualify for free and discount lunches.
  • Fiscal 1998 proposal would double, to $800,000, funding for Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical School in Providence, a new high school focusing on applied learning. Infusion of money would allow enrollment to grow from 50 students this year to 100 students next year.

VERMONT

Governor:
Howard Dean (D)

FY 1998 proposed state budget:
$735 million

FY 1998 proposed K-12 budget:
$208.7 million

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$206.1 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+1.3 percent

Estimated enrollment:
118,000

Highlights:

  • State supreme court recently found state's school funding system unconstitutional. In response to the inadequacies and reliance on local property taxes, lawmakers are now on the spot. Decision could significantly alter governor's budget plans.
  • Governor's plan proposes $150,000 to boost reading skills of elementary school students.
  • Mr. Dean has also said that increased parental involvement should be a top concern of Vermont educators.

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