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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of final action by legislatures on state education budgets and other education-related matters.

COLORADO

Governor:
Roy Romer (D)

FY 1998 state budget:
$4.5 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$1.85 billion

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$1.72 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+7.6 percent

Estimated enrollment:
644,000

Highlights:

  • Legislators considered, but later scuttled, major tax-reform measure that would have offered voters a constitutional amendment to shift state funding foundation for public schools from property taxes to increased corporate income taxes and sales and use taxes. Slight possibility remains that tax issue will be taken up in special session later this year.
  • Also failing were measure that would have banned affirmative action in government programs and bill that would have barred schools from transmitting information about students over Internet.
  • Legislators approved overhaul of charter school law, boosting funding for such schools from 80 percent of per-pupil revenues to 95 percent.

VIRGINIA

Governor:
George F. Allen (R)

FY 1998 state budget:
$8.73 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$3.09 billion

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$2.93 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+5.5 percent

Estimated enrollment:
1,104,036

Highlights:

  • About $29 million of budget hike comes from anticipated retail-sales-tax revenue. One cent is earmarked for schools.
  • Budget also includes $6.2 million for teaching materials to implement state's new academic-standards program, and additional $6.2 million for elementary school reading initiatives.
  • Includes plan to change how teacher pension funds are allocated. Budget will pay next year's projected $7.8 million in teacher-retirement-benefits from state's general fund instead of a special education fund earmarked for other projects.

WASHINGTON

Governor:
Gary Locke (D)

FY 1998 state budget:
$9.38 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$4.35 billion

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$4.24 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+2.6 percent

Estimated enrollment:
993,306

Highlights:

  • Figures represent one year of two-year budget. For fiscal 1998-99, total state budget is $19.08 billion. Proposed two-year K-12 budget is $8.87 billion.
  • Allows agencies that find ways to save money to keep some of it, while rest goes to K-12 school technology and construction. Officials expect plan to generate additional $19.6 million in each year of biennium for school technology, and additional $12.6 million in fiscal 1999 for school construction.
  • Charter school advocates suffered setback when charter school bill that had passed in House failed to make it out of Senate.

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