Governors' Budget Woes Continue, But Some Increase Education Aid
To eliminate an anticipated $28.6-million deficit in the current $685-million state budget, Gov. Pierre S. DuPont will call for cutbacks of $3.5 million in state support to school districts, state officials said last week. The state will cut energy subsidies for schools by 25 percent, according to the Delaware Department of Education.
The Governor's fiscal 1984 budget is expected to include an increase of 1.7 percent in general operating funds for state programs. The Governor indicated last month that he would call for no tax increases or layoffs and that he intended to allocate special funds to introduce computer instruction in public schools.
In his budget package, Gov. Terry Branstadt has called for increases in education funding from $643 million in fiscal 1983 to $680 million in 1984 and $736 million in 1985.
The legislature is expected to raise the state sales tax this year by one cent; the additional revenues are expected to pump $50 million into local school districts, education officials said.
Governor Branstadt, who expressed concern about the state's shortage of mathematics and science teachers and the limited number of students who take foreign-language courses, is offering incentives to school districts to share teachers in these subjects.
He also announced a plan to give school districts $50 for each student enrolled in advanced courses in mathematics, physical sciences, or foreign languages, provided the school districts use the money to improve laboratory equipment and buy books for advanced courses.
As an incentive to keep young mathematics and science teachers, the Governor also announced a program that will pay off $1,000 in Guaranteed Student Loans a year for six years for students with degrees in mathematics and science who take jobs in the Iowa schools.
In Kansas, where state programs were cut last year by 4 percent to help offset a budget shortfall, Gov. John Carlin has proposed in his $1.57-billion general-funds budget for fiscal 1984 a $62-million increase for public schools.
The state would increase its allocations for education programs from $431 million in fiscal 1983 to $493 million for fiscal 1984 and its share in funding public education from 45 percent to 48 percent.
Announcing that he intends to bring teacher salaries in Kansas up to the national average during his four-year term, the Governor said he would ask the legislature to increase teacher salaries by 8 percent.
Kansas ranks 38th among the 50 states in teacher salaries. Its average salary for public-school teachers is $17,506, compared to the current national average of $20,208.
The Governor's budget proposal sets aside $1 million for the improvement of inservice education for teachers and an additional $250,000 to develop a teacher-certification test that would be completed in 1984, validated in 1985, and implemented in 1986. To be certified, teachers would also have to complete a one-year internship, according to the Governor's proposal.
Governor Carlin plans to raise additional funds to support these increases through a 7-percent severance tax on oil and gas.
Incoming Gov. Richard Bryan said in his state-of-the-state message last month that Nevada, which is currently facing a $65-million deficit in its $1-billion budget, could not afford to pay salary increases for state workers, college faculty members, and teachers in fiscal 1984. Governor Bryan proposed providing pay raises in fiscal 1985 if state revenues improve.
Nevada will reduce support for education over the next two years. Only 45 percent of the state budget will be earmarked for education programs, compared with 53 percent last year, state officials said. To make up for the loss of funds, Governor Bryan proposed a 75-cent property-tax increase that should raise an additional $84 million in 1984 and $91 million in 1985.
Gov. James. B. Hunt Jr.'s $3.7-billion general-fund budget for 1984 and his $3.8-billion budget for 1985 includes $1.5 billion each year for education programs.
In the current fiscal year, the Governor has cut education programs by 2 percent and reduced funds for other agencies by 6 percent to make up for a shortfall in state tax revenues of more than $200 million.
Governor Hunt is currently bargaining with the legislature to remove the $101-million pay freeze imposed last year on the salaries of teachers and state employees.
In his budget package, the Governor has asked for $400,000 in scholarship funds to retrain teachers in mathematics and sciences for grades 6-12; $1.1 million to pay for an additional six weeks of employment for high-school mathematics and science teachers; and additional funds to initiate eight two-year projects for improving mathematics and science education in the public schools.
The Governor has also proposed setting aside funds for the development of tests and teacher training to improve the writing skills of North Carolina students.
Gov. Anthony Earl, who took of-fice last month, said he would maintain full funding for education programs, although other state agencies would face cutbacks in order to eliminate the state's $2.5-billion deficit.
"I make this commitment," he said, "because I believe in hard times our schools are a top priority. To talk about closing them or starving them is like talking about closing hospitals during an epidemic."
Governor Earl said the $8.8-billion general operating budget that he will present to the legislature will increase support for education by 4.3 percent for fiscal 1984 and an additional 6.7 percent in 1985, increasing appropriations by $160 million over the next two years.
The Governor and the legislature have already taken action to eliminate an estimated $1.5 billion from the state deficit by increasing the sales and cigarette taxes, and by holding back a property-tax rebate.
Governor Earl is expected to cut back $600 million in state operating funds and to raise the state income tax to eliminate the remaining $1-billion shortfall.
But while sparing education funds, the Governor exhorted educators to give the state its money's worth. "If we give you our tax dollars, you're going to have to give us young people who are literate, who are capable in math and science, who understand citizenship and history, who are familiar with new economic forces and comfortable with new technologies," the Governor said.
Sheppard Ranbom compiled this report.
Vol. 02, Issue 19