Romney OKs Hikes in School Spending
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Gov. Mitt Romney, who did not seek re-election in November in order to focus his efforts on a likely presidential bid in 2008, has approved a final state budget that provides substantial spending increases for public schools.
The $25.7 billion budget for fiscal 2007 will deliver $3.5 billion in what is known as Chapter 70 state aid for schools, an increase of $216 million, or 6.6 percent, over K-12 spending last year, according to the governor’s office.
The budget also adds $63.2 million in funds for the state’s public colleges and universities, an increase of 6.9 percent over the previous fiscal year. The governor and lawmakers also agreed to include a $2 million line item in the budget to help pay for recruiting math and science teachers.
While Gov. Romney, a Republican, and the Democratic-dominated legislature were able to agree on boosting expenditures for schools and colleges, the governor refused to go along with a major preschool initiative proposed by lawmakers.
In August, he vetoed legislation that would have established a statewide universal preschool program for children beginning at age 2 until kindergarten. Mr. Romney said the program, which was approved unanimously in both legislative houses, was unproven and could have cost taxpayers up to $1 billion a year.
For their part, state lawmakers refused to support the governor’s push to pass statewide merit-pay legislation that would have tied teacher salaries to students’ performance on tests.
Vol. 26, Issue 14, Page 21