State of the States 2009: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming

State of the States 2009: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming

January 21, 2009 15 min read


In what was likely her final State of the State address, Gov. Napolitano urged lawmakers to resist cutting money for priorities such as schools as they seek to close a nearly $1.6 billion deficit in the state’s $9.9 billion budget.

The governor, who is President Barack Obama’s nominee to become U.S. secretary of homeland security, said the legislature needs to increase classroom funding and teacher pay and that government should look out for the people hardest hit by the receding economy.

“It would be wrong to hurt our seniors, our youngest children, and those who are ill or disabled in the name of balancing the budget,” said Gov. Napolitano, who would be replaced, if confirmed to the federal post, by Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer.

Education Week‘s continuing coverage of the State of the States, with links to the full text and video of the governors’ speeches.

The governor also voiced support for school choice, saying “we can expand and preserve that choice through the growing institution of quality public charter schools.” And she proposed in-state tuition for all military veterans and continued infrastructure improvements at the state’s universities.—ASSOCIATED PRESS


Despite economic challenges, Gov. Beebe told legislators that Arkansas would continue investments in K-12 education, increasing per-pupil spending by a total of $234 over the next two years and providing districts with a one-time boost of $35 per student.

“It is no surprise that public education remains my first, and my highest, priority for Arkansas,” Mr. Beebe said. “It remains our constitutional obligation and it is our moral imperative to provide the best education possible for our children.”

He also outlined plans to expand the state’s need-based and merit-scholarship college programs, and to simplify the application for state financial aid. And he said he would like to revamp the higher-education funding formula to put more emphasis on graduation rates, rather than the number of students enrolled. —ALYSON KLEIN


In his third State of the State address, Gov. Ritter warned of “tough choices” ahead with the state budget given the economic downturn, even though the fiscal 2010 budget request he submitted to lawmakers in November would increase K-12 spending by 4.7 percent. “Everything will be on the table,” he said.

In September, Gov. Ritter announced plans to rein in spending, including a request to delay the issuing of nearly $35 million in grants for construction efforts to help expand full-day kindergarten across the state. Also, the state department of education and other agencies imposed a hiring freeze.

The governor’s proposed $19.2 billion overall budget for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, includes $4.5 billion for K-12 education, up $221 million.

The one new education proposal mentioned in his speech is the establishment of a ‘statewide concurrent-enrollment plan’ that would help more high school students get the opportunity to earn college credits while finishing high school.—ERIK W. ROBELEN


In a mostly gloomy State of the State address, Gov. Rell called these the “worst financial times any of us can remember” and declared that state government must shrink because families’ personal budgets are shrinking.

The Republican governor didn’t outline new programs, spending, or cuts, and didn’t specifically touch on K-12 education, ”but reiterated her attempt last month to establish a new $25 million low-interest college loan program to help struggling families pay tuition during this spring’s semester.—MICHELE McNEIL


State public education programs are among the biggest targets of $217 million in proposed budget cuts Gov. Otter outlined in his State of the State speech, where he called for “frugality and common sense” as well as compassion.

Though he used some $60 million from an education reserve fund to shield education from budget holdbacks during the current year, Gov. Otter won’t use the remaining $53 million and told teachers he expects them to accept less during contract talks slated for upcoming months. His plan calls for cutting $75.8 million from Idaho’s share of public education funding, which would slip to $1.34 billion.

The governor also is proposing to shift responsibility for some day-to-day operations from the state school board to the state department of education or elsewhere in the state government.—ASSOCIATED PRESS


Warning that the strained state budget will require some shifts in priorities, Gov. Daniels said he would ask the state to postpone the move to completely fund full-day kindergarten this budget year. To provide full funding this year would force cuts in other areas, he said.

The governor also took rhetorical aim in his address at what he said were inflated K-12 school bureaucracies that divert money to salaries and away from teachers and the classroom. “The goal is smaller schools, smaller classrooms, more and better-paid teachers, better academic opportunities for our kids, through lower overhead,” he said.

But the governor also said maintaining existing funding levels for public education should be a goal for Indiana at a time when other states are facing large cuts in that area.—CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS


Education got little mention in Gov. Culver’s Condition of the State address, which focused primarily on the need to rebuild the state’s infrastructure after last summer’s floods.

Gov. Culver urged lawmakers to approve a plan that would allow the state to use its bonding authority to borrow $700 million to pay for the rebuilding. The money could be used to refurbish public buildings, including schools, and rebuild roads and telecommunications, among other purposes.

“This legislative session, we must address every facet of our 21st-century infrastructure, to ensure that we continue to grow our economy and support the jobs of the future,” he said.—ALYSON KLEIN


Despite nearly $1.2 billion in projected shortfalls in the fiscal 2009 and 2010 budgets, Gov. Sebelius struck a positive note in her State of the State address, saying education must remain a top priority even as legislators make painful cuts.

The state faces a deficit of nearly $200 million in the current year’s budget, and the governor had asked state departments to look for cuts of about 3 percent last fall, a number that now is not enough to make up the gap.

A deficit of $1 billion is expected in the fiscal 2010 budget, and she pledged to present balanced budgets that exclude tax hikes.

“In an economic downturn, decisions can have dire consequences and a lifetime impact on future generations,” Gov. Sebelius said, without making any specific program or budget recommendations about K-12 education. “No student can afford to"miss” a few years of quality education."—DAKARAI I. AARONS

Gov. Deval A. Patrick (D), JAN. 15

In his second State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Patrick warned lawmakers that the state will have to make another $1.1 billion in cuts to the current year’s budget and that “local services will be cut, and in many cases, police, firefighters, and teachers will face layoffs.”

While the state in October closed a $1.4 billion budget gap, Gov. Patrick said the worsening economy is forcing the additional cuts, and he plans to file an emergency recovery plan at the end of the month.

But, he said, the state must maintain its commitment to change launched a year ago, including in education.

“Our teachers and students continue to reach for ever better performance, scoring first in the nation on NAEP, the nation’s ‘report card,’ and near the top in the world on TIMSS, the international standards for math and science,” he said. “We are not standing still.”

The governor was referring to the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.—DAKARAI I. AARONS


Gov. Pawlenty used his seventh State of the State address to propose an ambitious school improvement plan that would give school districts extra funding based on how their students perform, raise the bar for teachers and teacher preparation, and expand the state’s teacher performance-pay program, Q Comp.

Saying that “our K-12 system is not ready for the future,” Mr. Pawlenty told lawmakers that his budget—which he will present in two weeks—would include a provision offering districts up to an additional 2 percent per student in state aid for every student meeting standards or showing reasonable growth toward achievement.

“Our school finance system sends money to schools whether they’re doing a good job or not. This isn’t how the world works anymore, and it’s not in the best interests of student learning or greater accountability,” Gov. Pawlenty said.

The governor pressed for the passage of his Teaching Transformation Act, which would set tougher requirements for candidates seeking admission to teacher-preparation programs, as well as for those looking for jobs in the state’s schools.

He also proposed cracking down on teacher strikes, saying Minnesota is one of only 13 states that now allow public school teachers to strike.—VAISHALI HONAWAR


Gov. Barbour warned lawmakers that he will have to cut spending on the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which finances K-12 schools, by 3.8 percent.

Under state law, a governor may not cut any individual agency’s budget by more than 5 percent until every agency’s budget has been cut by that percentage, Gov. Barbour said. The state cut $42 million from the budget in November, but spared K-12, according to the Associated Press.

“The effect of this law is that I can no longer exempt the Mississippi Adequate Education Program from cuts,” Gov. Barbour said.

But he said school districts have done a good job squirreling away cash—they current have $517 million in reserve, or 50 percent more money than is in the state’s own rainy day fund, he said.—ALYSON KLEIN


Gov. Heineman unveiled a two-year budget that would include $100 million in additional K-12 education spending over that period, as well as $16.8 million in additional funding for special education programs.

The state is among the few nationally without a deficit, although Gov. Heineman’s new budget assumes that there will be no revenue growth in fiscal 2010.

While the state-aid formula calls for about $230 million in additional K-12 spending over that period, the governor’s proposal falls short of that.

Even so, it represents an average 6.1 percent boost in K-12 spending over the two-year period and nearly 4.6 percent increase in special education spending through 2011. If approved, Nebraska’s education budget would be $1.7 billion.—DAKARAI I. AARONS


Gov. Corzine pledged in his annual address to preserve the state’s hefty investment in precollegiate education, even as the fallout of the national recession forces state budget cuts.

Although lawmakers have already cut $800 million out of the state’s current $32.9 billion budget, the governor said he will “undoubtedly” have to ask for more deep cuts when he proposes a fiscal 2010 budget in March.

Nonetheless, Gov. Corzine told the Democrat-controlled state legislature that “no issue has been closer to my heart than education.” He noted that even in the face of big cuts in the 2009 budget, the state increased total education spending by nearly $500 million.

The governor said he is also committed to improving school facilities, and noted that the current budget includes $3.9 billion in new school construction. Such projects can help fuel the state’s flagging economy and “plant the seeds for future prosperity,” he said.—CATHERINE GEWERTZ


In an acknowledgment of New York’s “perilous” budget situation, Gov. Paterson did not call for additional spending on K-12 education, and, in fact, barely mentioned public schools at all.

Facing a still-growing $1.7 billion deficit this budget year and a projected $13.7 billion shortfall in fiscal 2010, Gov. Paterson declared the state can’t spend more money on programs and must use available state dollars more efficiently.

He first laid out his $79.8 billion state budget plan for fiscal 2010 more than a month ago, calling state aid for K-12 education to be cut by 3.3 percent below current levels, for a total of $20.7 billion.

Gov. Paterson also called for spending $350 million on a new student-loan program to help offset college costs and expansion of public-private partnerships to create more early admissions to college.—MICHELE McNEIL


Pointing to a thriving state economy, a budget surplus, and even a growing population, Gov. Hoeven used his annual State of the State speech to tout a plan to reform school financing in a way intended to increase equity and reduce property taxes statewide.

The plan, based on the recommendations of the state’s Commission on Education Improvement, is expected to reduce property taxes in North Dakota by $300 million in the 2010-11 biennial budget. It will add $130 million to the K-12 budget, bringing it to a proposed $891.1 million for the biennium.

The boost in education funding, which will raise the state share of school budgets to 70 percent, will be used to expand academic programs and teacher professional development, and to increase teacher salaries, he added.—KATHLEEN KENNEDY MANZO


In his annual address to lawmakers, Gov. Kulongoski named education as his top priority for the upcoming 2009-2011 biennium, tying a well-educated workforce to a thriving economy and promising to align what students learn in school with the skills they need to succeed in the marketplace.

The governor emphasized the need for a “larger science infrastructure” to train and recruit scientists and engineers to help research green technologies and alternative energy sources. He also warned of tough budget decisions that will have to be made by the legislature and said he would make new budget proposals in March.—KATIE ASHÂ


In an address that steered clear of new initiatives and made only glancing references to education, Gov. Rounds urged state lawmakers “to resist the temptation of increasing spending” and instead to focus on making sure the final budget is balanced.

The two-term governor, who is expected to present a revised budget proposal this week, claimed some improvements to K-12 education since he was first elected in 2002. Schools have posted gains in student proficiency in both reading and math, and fewer high school graduates require remedial math and reading classes when entering college, he said.—ANDREW TROTTER


Gov. Douglas used his fourth inaugural address —in effect, his “State of the State” speech—to call for big cuts in K-12 public schools spending, saying cash-strapped Vermont can’t afford rising education costs when student enrollments are declining.

To curb the growth in K-12 spending, he proposed freezing per-pupil spending at current levels—the statewide average is $11,621—although districts spending more than that would be allowed to continue doing so. He would move $40 million in annual costs for the teachers’ retirement fund from the state’s general fund to its education fund, and trim $23 million from the expected $298 million state contribution to the education fund.

The governor also called for merging the University of Vermont with the state college system and boosting funding for both higher education and preschool by 20 percent. He said Vermont must correct a “startling imbalance” between support for public schools—among the highest in the nation, per pupil—and support for higher education, which is among the lowest.—ASSOCIATED PRESS


Gov. Kaine said state revenue reductions are forcing him to propose cuts in funding for school administrative and other support personnel.

“For years we’ve applied a cap to determine the number of teachers and principals we fund—we should do the same for support staff,” he told legislators in his annual address. Making such cuts would help protect the “core priority” of schools, which is the classroom, he said.

Virginia is in the second year of its two-year budget cycle. The proposed funding cap of one support person for every four instructional employees would result in a savings of about $341 million for fiscal 2010, according to Gov. Kaine’s proposal.—CHRISTINA A. SAMUELS


Washington state will seek to weather the economic crisis with a $1 billion state jobs package focused on building schools, roads, and a “green economy for the 21st century,” Gov. Gregoire told the state legislature in her annual address.

The governor told lawmakers that the new jobs plan and $3 billion in previously scheduled transportation projects would provide 20,000 jobs. The governor’s list of new projects includes buildings, renovations, and infrastructure repairs at community colleges and public universities, and cleanups of soil contamination at 43 daycare centers. She said the jobs plan would be “in partnership” with a federal stimulus plan.

Gov. Gregoire warned lawmakers that despite the nationwide financial storm, “we need to preserve our education system to make sure we provide workers skilled in science, math, engineering and technology,” she said.—ANDREW TROTTER


Gov. Freudenthal expressed a desire to make K-12 funding more efficient and to streamline the juvenile-justice system in a speech that focused mainly on the need for fiscal prudence even though Wyoming—unlike many other states—still has a budget surplus.

On K-12 education, Gov. Freudenthal called on lawmakers to cull needless earmarks from the funding formula and argued that the state’s current level of funding is sufficient to ensure that students are well prepared to enroll in a state college, obtain vocational training, or enter the job market.—STEPHEN SAWCHUK

A version of this article appeared in the January 21, 2009 edition of Education Week as State of the States