News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Wallace Wins In Fla. Commissioner's Runoff
Former school administrator Ron Howard was easily defeated by former state lawmaker Peter Rudy Wallace in the Democratic runoff for the Florida schools chief's post this month. Mr. Wallace is now expected to face Republican nominee Tom Gallagher in the Nov. 3 general election.
Voters in most parts of Florida went to the polls Oct. 1. But in Monroe County the election was delayed until last week because of Hurricane Georges. According to unofficial totals last week, Mr. Wallace had captured 56.2 percent of the runoff vote to Mr. Howard's 43.8 percent.
Mr. Wallace, 44, had complained that his opponent earned instant recognition with voters because he shares his name with the popular actor-turned-director who portrayed Opie Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show." But Mr. Howard, 54, insisted he had won support on his own merit. A Democratic runoff was necessary because neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote in the state's Sept. 1 primary.
--Kerry A. White
Whitman Announces N.J. School Construction Plan
New Jersey officials say a new $5.3 billion school construction plan will satisfy a court order to fix the state's poorest schools and ease the tax burden in well-to-do districts.
State officials said the building plan unveiled by Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman may be the largest in state history. The plan will require both legislative and court approval.
Last May, the state supreme court ordered New Jersey to start fixing or replacing 429 buildings in 28 poor districts by January 2000 in the conclusion to the 28-year Abbott v. Burke school funding case. The "Abbott" districts, mostly urban, serve 300,000 children, or one-fourth of the public school population.
Over 10 years, those districts would receive $2.6 billion to pay all of their repair and new construction costs and wealthier districts would get $2.7 billion to subsidize their building costs. The state has proposed using bonds to finance the plan, said Dan Emmer, a spokesman for the state treasury department.
Vol. 18, Issue 7, Page 20