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Published in Print: September 13, 2000, as Legislative Update

Legislative Update

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The following is a summary of fiscal 2001 state budgets for schools and highlights of final education-related action in legislatures. The figures for the state budget and for precollegiate education spending include money for state education administration, but not federal, flow-through dollars. Percentage increases are based on rounded numbers, and estimated enrollment reflects the state's projected public school enrollment for 2000-01, unless otherwise noted. Depending on the state, figures may or may not include prekindergarten spending and enrollment.

ALASKA

Governor: Tony Knowles (D)

FY 2001 state budget: $6.97 billion

FY 2001 K-12 budget: $654.7 million

FY 2000 K-12 budget: $668.3 million

Percent change K-12 budget: -2.0 percent

Estimated K-12 enrollment: 132,000

Highlights:

  • Lawmakers decided for first time to pay for school construction using state money—but not nearly enough for governor's liking; six rural projects totaling $93 million were funded from long list of high-need rural projects. More populous districts will get another $105 million reimbursed for construction costs. Governor signed bill—which Republican legislators called a good start on satisfying state supreme court order on facilities—despite his concerns that it shortchanged rural minority children.
  • One-time grants totaling $5.8 million statewide passed to improve basic instruction, although Mr. Knowles opposed way in which money will be doled out: using a formula that he says favors more populous areas.
  • Legislature voted to require that advisory boards be created to oversee native-language instruction in communities where most residents are indigenous Alaskans.

CALIFORNIA

Governor: Gray Davis (D)

FY 2001 state budget: $99.4 billion

FY 2001 pre-K-12 budget: $32.3 billion

FY 2000 pre-K-12 budget: $26.5 billion

Percent change pre-K-12 budget: +21.9 percent

Estimated pre-K-12 enrollment: 5.9 million

Highlights:

  • Gov. Gray Davis

  • Budget includes enough money to increase per-pupil spending by 7 percent, from $6,321 in fiscal 2000 to $6,763 in fiscal 2001.
  • In addition to providing $1.84 billion in discretionary funding for schools, money that is expected to be applied toward increasing teachers' salaries, budget includes income-tax credits for teachers ranging from $250 to $1,500, depending on experience.
  • Budget includes total of $677 million worth of incentives to reward teachers and schools that demonstrate exemplary or improved performance on state tests.
  • Legislature approved $11.5 billion package of increases to teacher- retirement system, including $4 billion to allow teachers with more than 25 years of service to use their highest annual salaries in calculating retirement benefits. Currently, state uses average of teachers' pay for final three years of employment.

MASSACHUSETTS

Governor: Paul Cellucci (R)

FY 2001 state budget: $22.3 billion

FY 2001 K-12 budget: $3.92 billion

FY 2000 K-12 budget: $3.66 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +7.1 percent

Estimated K-12 enrollment: 988,500

Highlights: 

  • Direct aid to local districts rose by $187 million, to $2.9 billion. About $50 million was targeted for early-literacy programs, voluntary expansion of full-day kindergarten, and class-size reduction.
  • Legislature overrode Gov. Cellucci's veto of bill to increase pensions of teachers who have been serving in system for at least 30 years. Governor said change would spur early retirements at a time of mounting concern about teacher shortages, a prediction supporters disputed.
  • Lawmakers voted to abandon state's requirement that districts provide special education students with "maximum feasible benefit," replacing it with less generous federal standard requiring a "free, appropriate public education" for such students. Governor vetoed provision that allows for free, independent assessments of low-income special education students, but legislature overrode veto to restore that benefit.
  • For first time in 26 years, urban districts will no longer receive state money earmarked for complying with court-ordered desegregation efforts after state lawmakers failed to override governor's veto. In Boston, program's elimination means loss of $5.2 million annually.
  • Mr. Cellucci vetoed legislation that would have created an educational accountability office under control of state education department instead of under an independent board, as he had proposed. Office would have audited school districts' finances, curricula, professional development, and assessment programs.

NEW JERSEY

Governor: Christine Todd Whitman (R)

FY 2001 state budget: $21.25 billion

FY 2001 pre-K-12 budget: $6.69 billion

FY 2000 pre-K-12 budget: $6.21 billion

Percent change pre-K-12 budget: +7.7 percent

Estimated pre-K-12 enrollment: 1.3 million

Highlights: 

  • Governor signed legislation committing state to allocate $8.5 billion in bond revenue for school construction and renovation over next several years. With estimated $3.5 billion in contributions to come from local communities for projects, program is expected to be worth $12 billion.
  • Final budget includes $4.7 million for new character education program and $8.7 million for new teacher-mentoring program. Aid for charter schools and voluntary school choice efforts rises from $3 million last year to $9 million in fiscal 2001.
  • Formula-driven state aid to K-12 schools will climb by 5.8 percent, to $5.64 billion, in fiscal 2001 budget.
  • Special education aid rises by 11.3 percent, to $760 million.

NORTH CAROLINA

Governor: James B. Hunt Jr. (D)

FY 2001 state budget: $15.73 billion

FY 2001 pre-K-12 budget: $5.85 billion

FY 2000 pre-K-12 budget: $5.56 billion

Percent change pre-K-12 budget:+5.2 percent

Estimated pre-K-12 enrollment: 1.28 million

Highlights: 

  • Second year of biennial budget includes final installment of four-year plan to raise teacher salaries to national average. With this year's raises, beginning-teacher salary will be pegged at minimum of $25,000, and difference between pay for teachers with master's degrees and those with bachelor's degrees will rise from 6.25 percent to 10 percent. Total recurring cost to state expected to top $240 million annually.
  • Lawmakers approved an additional $8.2 million, for total of $39.5 million, to help schools improve student performance in grades 3-12, with money going to districts in proportion to number of students scoring badly on end-of- grade tests.
  • Legislators doubled funding for program to help schools implement technology plans, bringing total to $10 million.
  • Legislature created new state department of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Governor: Jim Hodges (D)

FY 2001 state budget: $5.50 billion

FY 2001 K-12 budget: $2.41 billion

FY 2000 K-12 budget: $2.23 billion

Percent change K-12 budget: +8.0 percent

Estimated K-12 enrollment: 643,000

Highlights: 

  • Legislature authorized $25 million, up from $14 million in fiscal 2000, to provide remedial summer school courses for students and professional development for teachers on incorporating state standards into curriculum and helping underachieving students.
  • State will spend $30 million for year-old school readiness program that finances health and education services for preschoolers, up from $10 million last fiscal year.
  • Lawmakers approved $5 million to provide 200 more guidance counselors, nurses, and psychologists in middle schools statewide.

Vol. 20, Issue 2, Page 24

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