State Capitols

January 29, 1986 15 min read


Seeking Excellence With Fewer Dollars

Gov. George Wallace urged in his state-of-the-state address this month that lawmakers “resist the temptation to appropriate more than is available” for education. And he warned that he would order an across-the-board cut in already-appropriated funds effective Oct. 1 if the budget legislators pass is too large.

Mr. Wallace’s message official restraint came as the state prepared to cope with a predicted shortfall in state revenues. Both the finance office and the legislature’s fiscal office have projected that Alabama will have $222 million less to spend on education in fiscal 1987 than it did in 1986.

Governor Wallace has proposed a $2.01-billion education budget for fiscal ID87, down from the current budget of $2.14 billion, according to Rex Cheatham, the Governor’s education aide.

Money for certain discretionary items in the education budget will not be spent, the Governor said, until he sees that sufficient new revenues are coming in to make up for the shortfall. Approximately $138- million was spent on such discretionary items last year.

For non-education expenditures, the Governor has proposed a budget of $592.7 million in fiscal 1987 . That includes a 4.5 percent cut in all programs except corrections, Medicaid, public safety, and pensions and securities. Anticipated revenues will fall $31.6 million short of what would be needed to maintain current non-education services, the Governor said.

He said there would be no pay raise for state employees this year. And he made no recommendation for salary increases for teachers, who have received an overall 30 percent pay raise in the past two legislative sessions.

“I realize we still have some way to go to bring our teachers nearer to the national average,” the Governor said, but he added that the state will have to live within its income.

In explaining the budget cuts, Governor Wallace noted that Alabama is required by law to have a balanced budget. Two years ago, he said, he proposed changes in the state’s tax system that have not been enacted, “so now we face the task of attempting to continue the momentum toward excellence in education without the benefit of those additional dollars.”

Mr. Wallace also told lawmakers that a state lottery is not the way to solve financial problems in Alabama, because it “preys on the poor and offers a false hope of quick money to desperate people.”


Education Funding Holding Steady

Gov. Bill Sheffield, in an election-year budget address, pledged continued support for education initiatives despite Alaska’s declining oil revenues.

Although the Governor proposed a 2 percent decrease in the overall state operating budget, he held state aid for education approximately steady for fiscal 1987, according to Harry Gamble, a spokesman for the education department.

Of the Governor’s proposed $1.9- billion total budget, $530 million would go to education through direct state aid; $106 million would be allocated to a school-construction debt fund; and about $50 million would go toward building new schools.

“Education does well in this budget considering the constraints this year, with oil prices going down,” Mr. Gamble said.

In his budget address this month the Governor also called for a $1.5- million appropriation for a five-part “School of the Future” program for fiscal 1987. The new program, which was recommended by an education- department task force late last year, includes the establishment of an “Alaska Academy"--an interactive telecommunications curriculum for long-distance teaching-- and a program for curriculum development.

The “School of the Future” program also features the expansion of technological administrative projects, including the state’s electronic-mail system connecting all the schools, and a student-assessment initiative.


More Funds To Pay For More Students

Gov. Richard D. Lamm identified education as an important item on the state’s “unfinished agenda” in his opening-day legislative address this month.

He told legislators: “As a nation, and as a state, we are engaged in a protracted economic war of attrition that will not be won with bombers but with blackboards-a war that will not be won or lost on the battlefield but in the classroom.”

Nevertheless, the Governor proposed that lawmakers hold public-education funding steady next year, with a 5.5 percent adjustment for projected increases in enrollment.

His request of $877 million for schools amounts to 43.6 percent of his proposed general-fund expenditures for fiscal 1987 and includes $241 million in property-tax relief.

The property-tax relief is included for the first time this year in a 7 percent ceiling on increases in general- fund expenditures that is mandated by state law. But its inclusion had no effect on education’s share of funding, according to a spokesman for the Governor.

Overall, spending from the state’s general fund would rise to just over $2 billion-6.3 percent more than appropriated for this year--if the Governor’s recommendations are approved.

The Governor’s proposed education budget includes $2 million-appropriated in a reform package passed last year-for dropout-prevention measures, programs for gifted and talented students, and other initiatives at the precollegiate level.


In Search of The ‘Best Teachers’

Gov. Michael N. Castle, calling the education-reform movement “the most pressing matter” before Delaware lawmakers, unveiled several initiatives this month aimed at improving the pay and performance of teachers.

Unless resources are targeted more efficiently “to attract the best teachers for our children,” the Governor warned in his state-of-the-state address, Delaware will face a serious teacher shortage. This year, he said, “our state’s colleges expect to graduate only 245 education majors--less than half of the anticipated demand” for new teachers by next fall.

Along with “a comprehensive marketing plan” to compete with other states in recruitment, the Governor proposed a package of salary increases for teachers, including raises of from $1,287 to $2,000 for starting teachers, who currently earn $14,900, and $5 million for a fund largely set aside to pay for raises for other teachers.

More details on this plan and on other spending requests for education will be included in the Governor’s budget message on Jan. 30.

In his address, Governor Castle also called for “teacher-scholarship loans for the top 50 graduating high-school seniors who major in education at Delaware colleges.” Loans of up to $4,000 for a university program would be forgiven at a rate of $1,000 for each year spent teaching in a Delaware school.

Expressing disappointment that the legislature tabled his career-ladder proposal last year after it drew criticism from educators, the Governor stressed the benefits of such a program. His recommended plan, he said, was “modeled on one already working in Tennessee, the state where General Motors decided to build its new Saturn plant and create many thousands of new jobs.”

General Motors “made that decision, in part,” he said, “because of Tennessee’s commitment and approach to public education-including the career ladder.”

To assuage “valid concerns” about the funding and evaluation methods involved in an incentive-pay plan, the Governor said he would propose this year that such a program be carried out as a pilot in the Christina School District, the state’s largest. Teachers would be involved in developing evaluation criteria, he said.

The Governor also proposed a “revitalization effort” that would stress better inservice training and “new techniques” for teacher evaluation. And he announced that he will soon issue an executive order creating a task force to study vocational education.


Full Funding For Reform Act

Gov. Joe Frank Harris reiterated his commitment to public schools this month by requesting full funding to carry out the state’s education- reform act.

Under the proposal, spending for schools would increase from its present level of $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion for the remainder of 1986, and to $2.1 billion in 1987.

If approved by lawmakers, the $338-million increase would account for nearly 54 percent of all new spending. In 1987, spending for elementary and secondary education would make up almost 38 percent of the $5.3 billion proposed for the state budget.

Approximately $313 million of the new monies would go toward programs mandated in Georgia’s education- reform law, the “Quality Basic Education Act.” That legislation is supposed to be phased in over the next four years. But the Governor said his proposal would bring cumulative spending for the programs “well past the halfway point.”

One of the largest costs under the act is a recommended $136 million for a new school-finance formula, as well as $83 million to implement it. The formula is designed to reduce disparities among school districts.

In addition, Mr. Harris called for a 5 percent pay raise for teachers in 1987, and a beginning teacher salary of $16,800. State-paid school-bus drivers and lunchroom workers would receive a 4 percent increase, effective in July.

The Governor also requested $74.1 million for higher education.

Many of the proposed increases are possible because of a revenue surplus this fiscal year of slightly more than $250 million, said Calvin R. Cruse, a policy coordinator in the Governor’s office. Manufacturing investment in the state topped $2- billion for the first time in history last year. Total new and expanded capital investment in Georgia hit a record $21 billion-a 92 percent increase over 1984.


More Education Aid Despite Farm Crisis

In his condition-of-the-state message this month, Gov. Terry E. Branstad recommended a $72-million increase in Iowa’s total budget, with almost half of that increase going to secondary and elementary education.

“This aid would not have been possible without the restructuring and downsizing of state government,” Governor Branstad noted. “Our blueprint to build a new future for Iowa must include renewing our commitment to excellence in education.”

The Republican Governor’s total budget proposal for fiscal 1987 was $2.21 billion, up from $2.14 billion allocated for the current fiscal year. Of that amount, the Governor proposed $764.2 million for K-12 education, up from $729.9 million for the current fiscal year.

Along with increased funding, Governor Branstad proposed a number of reform initiatives, including a $5-million career-ladder plan. Two different career-ladder plans were passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature last year, according to M.J. Dolan, the Governor’s education aide, but the two Houses could not hammer out an agreement.

The Governor has also recommended that $1.6 million go toward funding a 10-percent increase in beginning teachers’ salaries-which vary widely across the state.

The Governor warned, however, that schools must reduce administrative costs. And he recommended providing extra state aid to schools that share administrative staff members, as well as removing the penalties--such as loss of revenue--that are disincentives for districts wanting to share instructors and programs.

He also requested modifications in state law to permit alternative schooling-such as religious or home schooling-"while at the same time ensuring that every child in the state of Iowa receives a good education.


Economic Woes, Higher Sales Tax

Gov. John Carlin, reflecting Kansas’ ongoing economic troubles, has requested a decrease in all state spending, including a $6-million cut in spending for elementary and secondary education.

But in his state-of-the-state message this month, the Governor also recommended a l-cent sales-tax increase which, if approved by the legislature, would provide extra funding for a number of areas, including education, according to Robert Wooten, the Governor’s education aide. The Republican-dominated legislature last year defeated a proposal for a half-cent increase in the state’s 3-cent sales tax.

The Governor proposed a $610- million K-12 education budget for fiscal 1987. The total state budget would decrease from $1.74 billion to $1.71 billion.

If the sales tax is approved, the total budget will increase to $1.85 billion, according to Gary Stotts, acting director of the budget office.

One of the major recommendations linked to the Governor’s proposed tax increase would require the state to assume the entire employee share of the state’s teacher-retirement system. Such a move would co t the state $24.7 million and provide teachers with an increase of slightly more than 4 percent in take-home pay, according to Mr. Wooten. Currently, teachers contribute 4 percent of their pay to the retirement fund.

“There is no group of citizens which contributes more to developing our state’s ‘human capital’ than teachers in our primary and secondary schools,” Governor Carlin said in his budget message. “The ... option I am proposing would allow maximum benefits to teachers within the resources that can be made available in fiscal year 1987.” The Governor also proposed:

  • Decreasing state transportation aid to school districts from 100 percent to 90 percent. If the sales tax is implemented, the aid will be financed at 95 percent.
  • Decreasing the excess costs of special-education funding from 95 percent to 90 percent, unless the sales tax is passed, in which case the state will again fund 95 percent.
  • Providing an additional $900,000, to be funded through the sales tax, for special education for 4-year-olds. Currently, the state mandates special-education services beginning at age 5.


Education A Low Priority

Gov. Joseph E. Brennan barely mentioned precollegiate education in a lengthy state-of-the state address delivered last week.

Governor Brennan, who pushed an education-reform package through the legislature two years ago, listed four legislative priorities for 1986: improved funding for the state’s university system, a trade agreement with Canada, development of a new statewide telecommunications system, and improved access to the scenic Maine coast.

The Governor is scheduled to outline his budget priorities this week on the opening day of the Maine legislative session.

Last year, the legislature approved a biennial budget that raised spending for schools by some 30 percent to about $850 million, out of a total state budget of nearly $2 billion.

Included were funds for the implementation of the state’s education-reform program, which mandates a $13,500 minimum salary for teachers this year and a $15,500 minimum by 1988.

The state has also committed itself to paying 60 percent of the cost of K-12 education in the state by 1988.


More Spending for Higher Education

Gov. Michael S. Dukakis last week proposed a $200-million spending increase for higher education that he said would enhance the state’s “worldwide reputation for educational excellence.”

A week earlier, the Governor had delivered an upbeat state-of-the-state address that reflected the strength of the Massachusetts economy.

“We now have the opportunity to build an environment for growth and innovation and change which could reap dividends for generations to come,” Mr. Dukakis, a Democrat, said.

With less than 4 percent of the official workforce unable to find a job, Massachusetts boasts the lowest unemployment rate of any industrial state. And one month ago, the Governor, who is up for re-election this year, signed a bill that repealed an unpopular income-tax surcharge he had imposed during his first term.

The tax repeal was made possible which the Governor is also counting on to pay for a two-year, $210-million education-reform package that the legislature approved last year.

In his budget address, Mr. Dukakis proposed a $78-million supplemental-spending increase this year for higher education that includes what he called “the largest scholarship-assistance program” in the state’s history.

He also proposed a $1.39-billion budget for precollegiate education, plus $85 million in new funds for implementation of Chapter 188, the education-reform law. That would represent about 39 percent of the Governor’s proposed $9-billion state budget, said Gerard Indelicato, the Governor’s chief education aide.

The state appropriated $1.36 billion for K-12 education in the current fiscal year, including a $50-million supplemental appropriation for the implementation of reforms, Mr. Indelicato said.

Governor Dukakis said he would also seek a spending increase “more and better training, more and better child care, [and] more and better adult education.” And he vowed that he would “not stop until our message about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse reaches every school and every community in this Commonwealth.”


Aid for Schools From New Lottery

Gov. John Ashcroft has asked Missouri lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow proceeds from the state’s new lottery to be used to fund the education-reform package approved by the legislature last year.

The Governor is seeking $937.1-million in basic aid for public schools, an increase of 6.5 percent, or $57.5 million, over last year’s $879.6-million total. The increase, he said in his state-of-the-state message this month, would raise per-pupil support from $1,734 to $1,901.

The Governor told legislators that the reform package, which was approved by voters in 1984 and by lawmakers last June, should be funded by the $86 million the state is expected to net from the lottery in its first year.

He asked for legislation that would assign the full state share of the lottery revenues to education on a continuing basis. In fiscal 1987, he proposed, half of this revenue should be earmarked for elementary and secondary education, and half for public higher education.

Although lawmakers have not indicated how the lottery funds should be used, the Governor noted in his address that a recent survey of tax-payers found that 90 percent wanted the lottery revenues to support education.

“Excellence in education must have a first-priority claim on new state revenues,” Governor Ashcroft said. “The students in this state must be the first lottery winners.”

Among other provisions, the reform package set a minimum statewide teacher salary of $15,000, established a career-ladder program, and introduced scholarship and loan programs for prospective teachers.

The Governor proposed that, in addition to funding the reform package, lottery earnings be used to increase funding for early-childhood-education programs, vocational-education programs, and a summer program for gifted high-school sophomores.

The Governor also called for the enactment of stricter licensing requirements for school-bus drivers and the creation of an energy-conservation fund from which districts could borrow money for energy cost-cutting measures and student programs.

A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 1986 edition of Education Week