Aid Level Remains Flat Despite Governor’s Push
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 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.
The Democratic-controlled Rhode Island legislature rejected a 3 percent education budget increase proposed by Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, a Republican and former teacher, leaving K-12 education with $679 million for fiscal 2008—essentially the same amount as this year.
If there was any solace to be found in the numbers, said Larry Berman, a spokesman for House Speaker William J. Murphy, it is that education could have fared worse.
“We had a severe budget crisis this year,” Mr. Berman said, citing the need to close a deficit of more than $450 million in a total budget of $7 billion. “Education was level-funded, but there were lots of programs that were actually cut back.”
That was cold comfort to Rep. Steven F. Smith, who is the president of the Providence Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and one of only two Democrats to vote against the override.
“Last year, we put a cap on the amount of taxes that can be raised at the town level at five and a quarter percent, and now they’re not funding education at the state level,” he said. “It just boggles my mind.”
Education-related legislation that passed included a bill mandating dating-violence education. Under the Lindsay Ann Burke Act, named for a 23-year-old Rhode Island woman who was murdered in 2005 by her former boyfriend, students in grades 7-12 will get training in health classes that is intended to deter such violence.
Vol. 26, Issue 43, Page 23