State of the States
Mont. Governor Gives Nod To School Finance Issue
In his first State of the State Address, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer acknowledged that how the state decides to pay for public education is a huge issue.
The Montana Supreme Court, after all, has ruled that the state’s current funding system violates the state constitution and that the legislature must fix the problem.
Gov. Schweitzer, a Democrat who was elected in November, said that the issue was the “greatest task” facing the legislature. Though he did not offer advice, he did ask legislators to complete the work of fixing the funding formula in the next 90 days.
Mr. Schweitzer also proposed in his Jan. 19 speech a program to provide scholarships of at least $1,000 a year to 970 Montana students who attend in-state public colleges. He noted that his own mother and father weren’t high school graduates, but had the dream of sending their children to college.
Mr. Schweitzer was expected to release final figures for his two-year budget for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years late last week. The state budget director, David Ewer, said the governor would propose increasing K-12 education funding by $30 million in each year of the new biennium, which would mean a 5 percent increase for fiscal 2006.
Vol. 24, Issue 22, Page 20