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Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of final action by legislatures on state education budgets and related matters. Budget totals for K-12 education include money for state education administration, but do not include federal flow-through dollars.

MINNESOTA

Governor:
Arne Carlson (R)

FY 1998-99 budget:
$21 billion

FY 1998-99 K-12 budget:
$6.73 billion

FY 1996-97 K-12 budget:
$5.86 billion

Percent change K-12 budget:
+14.9 percent

Estimated enrollment:
849,270

Highlights:

  • After standoff with Gov. Carlson, who unsuccessfully sought tax credits to pay for private school tuition, lawmakers approved new refundable tax credits for families earning $33,500 and below to pay for computers, transportation expenses, summer school and camps, textbooks, and other educational services. Lawmakers also raised education tax deduction, which can be used for private school tuition.
  • Two-year finance bill represents largest increase in public education spending in state history, including additional $100 million--for total of $360 million over two years--in compensatory aid.
  • Lawmakers also passed bill creating Minnesota's first statewide testing program.

RHODE ISLAND

Governor:
Lincoln C. Almond (R)

FY 1998 state budget:
$1.8 billion

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$519 million

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$490 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+5.9 percent

Estimated enrollment:
152,434

Highlights:

  • Legislature passed and Gov. Almond approved significant changes to state school aid formula.Under new formula, each district will receive at least as much funding as it received in fiscal 1997.
  • In addition, another $25 million will be distributed to districts based on factors such as percentages of students in poverty and with limited proficiency in English. Measure also creates new accountability mechanisms allowing state to take over or close failing schools as a last resort.

VERMONT

Governor:
Howard Dean (D)

FY 1998 state budget:
$804.9 million

FY 1998 K-12 budget:
$231.6 million

FY 1997 K-12 budget:
$206.1 million

Percent change K-12 budget:
+12.4 percent

Estimated enrollment:
118,000

Highlights:

  • Following state supreme court finding that Vermont's school finance system was unconstitutional, lawmakers passed measure backed by Gov. Dean that overhauls the school funding system in an effort to distribute aid more equitably.

New law replaces local property taxes with statewide property tax. Revenues from new statewide tax will be distributed among districts across the state. Some wealthier districts have filed suit to have the law revoked.

  • Lawmakers also increased funding for special education, from $36.5 million in 1997 to $39.1 million for fiscal 1998.

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