State of the States
State of the States
Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.
GOV. JIM GIBBONS (R), JAN. 15
Gov. Gibbons warned lawmakers that state government, including K-12 education, would be affected by cuts as he submitted a $17.3 billion 2009-2011 budget proposal that is $633 million smaller than the previous two-year budget. That would be a decrease of 9 percent.
His plan would provide $1.1 billion in fiscal 2010 for K-12 education, down from $1.2 billion in fiscal 2009. A program to provide early-intervention services to children with developmental delays would receive a $9 million increase, however, and the budget also would preserve an all-day-kindergarten program in schools that predominantly serve children deemed at risk of academic failure.
But spending on higher education would fall to $424 million in fiscal 2010 from the current year’s figure of $667 million, a drop of 36 percent.
The governor also proposed cutting the salaries of state employees and teachers by 6 percent, a move that has been criticized. He gave no details on how teacher salaries, which typically are set by local contracts, would be cut. —Stephen Sawchuk
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), Jan. 20
Stressing the need to build a stronger employee base, Gov. Richardson told lawmakers that “the key to this workforce is education” and proposed a change in the school finance formula to more reliably fund small and rural schools.
The governor also proposed increasing the math requirement for new elementary and middle school teachers, and tightening the school calendar so that days for students to learn would not be replaced with teacher-training days.
“We continue to make steady progress—aligning grades, improving accountability in our schools, and fighting to close the achievement gap,” Mr. Richardson said in his prepared remarks. He said that proof of the state’s progress in education could be seen in the Quality Counts 2009 report, published by Education Week, which ranked New Mexico 22nd in the nation for its quality of education, up from 30th the previous year.—Mary Ann Zehr
GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), JAN. 14
More money is not the only way to improve education in the state, Gov. Sanford said in an address telling legislators they should face economic challenges by offering more choices that reflect the individual diversity among the state’s 700,000 students.
The governor, whose proposals did not include an increase in aid to schooling, said he would like to enact education funding that “follows the child,” so that opportunities are not limited based on geography. He would also like to see an expansion of charter schools. “If we limit choice to simply a monopoly of public schools, we will never have real choice,” he said.
The governor’s $21 billion fiscal 2010 proposed budget also includes $1.2 million to reward students who graduate earlier than the traditional four years of high school, and would provide chronically low-performing schools the flexibility to pursue innovative restructuring programs. Some $3.6 billion of Gov. Sanford’s proposed budget is for K-12 education, about the same as the current year.—Christina A. Samuels
Vol. 28, Issue 19, Page 12