State of the States
This month marks the beginning of the 1986 legislative season in state capitols around the country. The following are summaries of the gubernatorial addresses that typically set the executive agenda for the year ahead. Some state-of-the-state messages delivered last week will be covered in next week's "State Capitols" section.
Over the next several months, the “State Capitols" section will also include reports on the progress of key education-related measures In the state legislatures.
Arizona 'Paying for Quality'
Although environmental issues dominated his final state-of-the-state address last week, Gov. Bruce Babbitt asked the Arizona legislature to enact several new education initiatives, including the extension of a pilot career-ladder program to cover all state teachers.
Governor Babbitt urged lawmakers to follow up on reform efforts that have led to higher standards for students and teachers.
"But there's a flip side to insisting on performance," he said. "And that's paying for it."
The Governor asked legislators to "Join a great many parents, teachers, and businesses by throwing your support behind a 'yes' in November's referendum-to raise the constitutional limit on education spending, so Arizona can pay for the quality we ask for."
State officials estimate that implementation of a career-ladder program could cost $60 million. Under current law, the legislature would not be able to fund such a program because current budget expenditures are less than $8 million below the constitutional spending limit. A proposal to raise the spending cap will go before the voters next November.
The Governor also proposed:
- Establishing a $2-million demonstration project to prevent and retrieve high-school dropouts.
- Earmarking $880,000 for pilot projects in "outcome-based" education that would explore innovations in teaching, new approaches to testing, and more flexible class schedules for students with learning difficulties.
- Appropriating $1 million to develop demonstration preschool programs for disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds.
- Providing $1.5 million to continue a pilot preschool program for handicapped 3- and 4-year-olds.
- Channeling $2 million into identifying and developing tests for mastery of basic skills.
Overall, Governor Babbitt proposed $1.51 billion in education spending for fiscal year 1987, an increase of 4.6 percent over current levels. His proposals for all state spending totaled $2.5 billion, an increase of 7 percent over this year's total of $2.36 billion.
Most of the Governor's proposals for new programs were aimed at improving the state's natural environment and providing health care for disadvantaged children.
The state's expanding revenue base has resulted from population and industrial growth rates that rank among the highest in the nation, according to the Governor's press secretary.
Under the state constitution, Mr. Babbitt is not eligible for re-election when his second term ends this fall.
California Return to 'Leadership'
In an optimistic state-of-the-state address, Gov. George Deukmejian called for increased spending for elementary and secondary education to speed such efforts as the lengthening of the school day, the creation of effective dropout-prevention programs, and the replacement of unsafe school buses.
Proclaiming California's return to its role as a "leadership state," the Republican Governor proposed a $12.1-billion budget for K-12 education. That figure represents a 9.2 percent increase over expenditures in 1985-86. The Governor's total budget request for 1986-87 is $37 billion, up from the current budget of $34.8 billion.
Three years ago, the Governor said, California's budget was out of balance, its people out of work, and its schools running out of money. But through what he called a "historic change of spending priorities," education has moved from u near the bottom in funding" to "our highest budget priority."
"As recently as eight years ago," he said in the election-year address, "schools received only 44 percent of the general-fund budget. I am proposing that we give our schools 55 percent in the coming year, the highest budget share in nearly two decades." Currently, 53 percent of the general fund goes to education.
"In addition to the $17 billion provided by the general fund budget [for all levels of education), our schools will receive over $700 million from the lottery during the next 18 months, just as the voters intended."
With those funds, Governor Deukmejian said, state officials can increase classroom time by lengthening the school day, provide $14million to prevent students from dropping out of school, provide $1.5 billion for special education, and improve the buying power of teachers' pensions.
The Governor's budget also calls for $100 million for replacing unsafe school buses, a major bond measure to support school construction, full cost-of-living increases in benefits for those in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, and more funds for AIDS research.
In addition, the budget proposes $282 million in funding for childcare programs, including before- and after-school programs and school-age parent and infant-development programs.
All of these expenditures, the Governor said, can be made without imposing any severe budget cuts in other areas.
Idaho Revenue Shortfalls Continue
Faced With continuing revenue shortfalls, Gov. John V. Evans has proposed a state budget that will require more than $50 million in new revenue and will increase most agency budgets by little more than the rate of inflation.
An estimated shortfall of $26 million in the current fiscal year prompted Governor Evans in September to order a 2.5 percent spending holdback for all state agencies, the fifth time in six years he has taken such action.
In his budget message, he asked the legislature to extend the holdback for all agencies except education until June, the end of the current fiscal year.
"The national debt, high real interest rates, and the strong dollar I have made it all but impossible for Idaho's resource-based economy to compete for outside markets," he told legislators earlier this month in his state-of-the-state address.
Governor Evans's fiscal 1987 budget proposal earmarks $474 million for public schools-a $16-million, or 3.5 percent, increase over this year's appropriations.
Spending from the state's general account would rise 4.3 percent to $613 million under the Governor's proposed budget.
To meet the current and anticipated revenue shortfalls, he proposed broadening the state's 4 percent sales tax to items now excluded, such as services.
Some legislators have proposed raising the sales tax to 5 cents to increase funding for education and other programs.
State funding for education in Idaho is not likely to be cut because legislators face the political pressure of a state law that mandates local property-tax increases if the state's contribution decreases.
Indiana Many Proposals Offered
Although the Indiana Legislature is meeting in its biennial "short session," Gov. Robert D. Orr has presented it with an extensive list of education-related legislative proposals. The session, which began on Jan. 7, must end by March 15 as required by the state constitution.
Included in the list is a proposal to make the state superintendent of public instruction, who is now elected to office, an appointee of the Governor. State legislators defeated a similar proposal two years ago, but the concept regained momentum last year after Harold Negley, the former superintendent, resigned and pleaded guilty to charges of payroll manipulation.
Mr. Orr has also asked the legislature to add $14 million to its budget for elementary and secondary education, according to Nancy DiLaura, a spokesman for the Governor. During its budget session last year, the legislature earmarked a total of$3.4 billion for state aid to local schools in fiscal 1985-86 and fiscal 1986-87.
According to Ms. DiLaura, of the $14 million requested, $10 million would be earmarked for general aid to school districts.
The Governor is also seeking $1.8million for a program that allows handicapped students whose needs cannot be met in state schools to attend classes out of state; $1.3 million for the development of a uniform achievement-testing program to be administered at all grade levels; $1million for state board and education-department planning and professional development; and $200,000 for the creation of a statewide principals' academy.
Ms. DiLaura said the Governor is also seeking authorization, but no funding at this time, for the establishment of an adult-literacy initiative and a six-week summer institute for gifted and talented students.
Kentucky Call for 'Full' Funding
Education was at the top of the agenda in Gov. Martha Layne Collin's biennial state-of-the-state message to Kentucky lawmakers this month.
The Governor called on the General Assembly to provide "full funding" for education-improvement measures it approved last summer.
Meeting in special session last July, the legislature approved a $306-million reform package that included pay raises for teachers, reductions in elementary-school class sizes, duty-free lunch hours for teachers, and increased state support to reduce funding disparities among school districts.
But because state law requires that budgetary matters be considered during regular legislative sessions, the General Assembly could only commit itself through a resolution to fund the package. In her address, Governor Collins asked lawmakers to follow through on that commitment.
Governor Collins also asked lawmakers to submit to the people of Kentucky a proposed constitutional amendment making the superintendent of public instruction an appointive rather than an elective position. "No other single action would more greatly benefit the education of our children," she said, citing the benefits of continuity in state education leadership.
Under the current state constitution, the superintendent is elected to one four-year term and may not seek re-election. If the lawmakers approve the amendment, it would have to be submitted to the voters for final approval.
Governor Collins was slated to announce her proposed 1987 -88 budget this week.
Maryland 'Better Opportunity' Reforms
Gov. Harry Hughes has asked the Maryland legislature for $1.36 billion in aid to local school districts for 1987, a 4.9 percent increase over this year. The proposal is part of an $8.2-billion budget plan that includes $14 million to supplement previously approved spending for school reforms.
The increase is needed "so that every child in our state has a better opportunity for a quality education through the availability of better textbooks, improved teacher salaries, and other educational enhancements," the Governor said in his state-of-the-state message last week.
His proposal would boost state spending per pupil to $1,651-nearly twice what it was when he took office seven years ago, Mr. Hughes noted.
Sheila Tolliver, the Governor's education aide, said the $14 million I supplement would expand the state's $616-million "Civiletti" reform effort. The five-year, $616-million plan, which takes its name from a commission headed by former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin R. Civiletti, was enacted in 1984.
Other highlights of the Governor's budget request include:
- $1 million for vocational education to help districts meet fund-matching requirements under the federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act of 1984.
- $3.5 million to assist a magnet-school plan for desegregation in Prince George's County.
- $1.1 million to offset declining federal support for the school lunch program for the poor.
- $1 million in new funding for public libraries.
Governor Hughes will also propose legislation calling for background checks on certain school employees who work with young children, Ms. Tolliver said.
Mississippi Schools, Economy Linked
In Mississippi, where the legislature passed two major school-aid bills in the first days of its 1986 session, Gov. William A. Allain's state-of-the-state message emphasized the steps the state must take to promote economic development, stressing the roles of both precollegiate and higher education.
"I look upon education as the avenue for the realization of the state's potential for development," Governor Allain said. "Our many other efforts are hampered if we fail to develop our people--each to the limit of his capabilities-beginning with early childhood."
Indeed, a $40-million appropriation for state-wide kindergarten was one of the measures the legislature passed in its opening days. The other bill signed by the Governor provides a $1,000 salary increase for teachers in 1986-87.
He pledged to "keep on track" the state's sweeping Education Reform Act of 1982.
To promote economic development and improved government efficiency, Governor Allain said the higher-education system must be drastically improved, the antiquated budget system overhauled, and the transportation system up graded.
Governor Allain has recommended about $1.9 billion in general-fund spending, up from his $1.5bIllion recommendation last year, a spokesman said. The new proposal includes about $952 million for elementary and secondary education, an increase from last year's $887 million.
The increase includes the new appropriations for teacher-pay raises and statewide kindergarten, but other education spending, like all other state spending, is expected to be cut by 5 percent because of the state's troubled economy, the spokesman said.
Nebraska Little News for Schools
Education is expected to be a low-profile issue in Nebraska this year, with Gov. Robert Kerry devoting most of his time during his final year in office to economic and agricultural matters, according to the Governor's aides.
Governor Kerry, a highly popular Democrat, shocked his party's leaders last summer by announcing he would not seek a second term in this traditionally Republican state. Given his lame-duck status and the fact that the legislature is in its short session this year, the Governor "can be expected to come up with very little in the way of new initiatives," said Stanley Sibley, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry.
"We're kind of in a rough spot, having to finish the old agenda and having very little time in which to do that," Mr. Sibley added.
Among the items on that agenda, he said, is securing funding for education-reform measures approved by the legislature in 1984. Last year, lawmakers in the economically distressed farming state voted to delay the effective date of the reforms which included the extension of teachers' contracts and the creation of an education-technology consortium-until the start of the 1986-87 school year.
"The budget situation is grim," j said Mr. Sibley, noting that the legislature sliced 3 percent from the $185.5-million fiscal-1986 budget for precollegiate education during a special session last fall. He said the Governor "would support a bill to fund the education reforms if [the legislature] comes up with a new funding source, such as closing tax loopholes." The reforms, he said, are expected to cost a total of$14 million over two years.
New Hampshire Needs vs. Wants
In an address this month that marked the opening of New Hampshire's first-ever regular legislative session in an even-numbered year, Gov. John H. Sununu, a Republican, urged lawmakers not to change the existing biennial budget.
But the lawmakers have already introduced legislation that would raise state spending in many areas, including education.
The existing budget, which runs through fiscal 1987, appropriates some $73 million for schools, including $47 million distributed to di8tricts through a new equalization formula.
That represents a 50 percent increase in state education spending over the previous biennium, but only about 8 percent of the state's $894 million in general-fund appropriations for the fiscal biennium.
"There is no reason for a significant change or midstream correction in our well-charted course," Mr. Sununu told the lawmakers in a brief address. "There are sufficient funds appropriated in every department to meet every need recognized in legislation last session."
The Governor said that those proposing new legislation "misunderstand the difference between needs and wants."
"As you are all aware," he said, "we are witnessing a national trend where policies in our sister states and at the federal level are returning to the traditional approach we have consistently maintained in New Hampshire."
New Hampshire, with no state sales or income tax, relies primarily on municipalities for most services, including education.
Despite a $40-million surplus, the Governor supported legislation that would create a "revenue stabilization fund," which he said would provide for "unanticipated and sudden shortfalls in revenue."
New Jersey Funds for 'Success'
Gov. Thomas H. Kean, in his state-of-the-state address last week, called for a new way of allocating compensatory school aid in New Jersey, criticizing the current formula as "a reward for failure and a penalty for success."
"Right now, districts get more if more children fail. That is backward," he said. "Let's provide more funds for schools that prevent failure."
Proposals for additional compensatory aid will be unveiled in the Governor's Feb. 10 budget message according to his spokesman, Paul Wolcott.
Governor Kean also pledged to strengthen state monitoring of "problem districts," where "children are still not learning."
New Jersey has become "a focus of educational reform," the Governor added, pointing to the enactment last fall of a minimum $18,500 salary for starting teachers. The new law makes New Jersey's average entry-level pay the highest in the nation, he said.
Governor Kean reiterated his support for a controversial new "High School Proficiency Test," which students, beginning with this year's 9th graders, must pass before graduation. The New Jersey School Boards Association has objected to the difficulty of the requirements and proposed that they be phased in more gradually.
"Some people have asked me to delay the new graduation standards," the Governor said. ''They say that our children cannot make it, that many children simply cannot learn to read and write and do arithmetic."
"Nonsense. I know our children have the ability to learn," he said. ''The question is: Do our schools have the capacity to teach? And if they don't, that is our failure, not our children's."
The new test will not affect this year's 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, who must pass a less rigorous "Minimum Basic Skills" exam as a condition for graduation, according to Marilyn Riley, a spokesman for the education department. Ninth graders will have four opportunities to pass the reading, writing, and arithmetic components of the H.S.P.T., she said.
New York Modest Increases, a Tax Cut
Gov. Mario M. Cuomo has proposed a $24.7-billion state budget that includes $6.2 billion in aid to New York's more than 700 school districts-a modest 5.1 percent increase over this year-following three years of substantial growth.
Mr. Cuomo, whose "big spender" image has clouded his prospects as a 1988 Presidential contender, also proposed a $1-billion cut in the state income tax.
The Governor's budget embrace' the goals of the New York State Board of Regents, which had called for categorical aid to districts for increasing teacher raises and hiring I new teachers. But his requests for $91 million to raise teacher salaries-to be allocated "on a need basis ... with emphasis on entry-level salaries"-and $24 million to launch new professional-development programs fall far short of the regents' proposal for $439 million to strengthen teaching.
Overall, Governor Cuomo is seeking $303 million in new funds for elementary and secondary education. But this amount is widely seen I as "inadequate" by legislators and will probably be increased to "something over $500 million," according to James H. Donovan, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Over the past three fiscal years, education spending has risen by $1.3 billion, largely to fund reform measures.
The Governor's 1986-87 budget package would continue funding for several ongoing reform efforts. including $21.5 million for magnet schools in urban areas and $18.6 million for an "Early Grade Intervention Program" in 47 districts where pupils have special educational needs.
A computers-in-the-classroom program, now in its third year, would receive $23 million. "I reaffirm now my goal that by the year 2000 every child in this state will have the full opportunity to become computer-literate," the Governor said.
Also, Governor Cuomo requested $1 million to initiate an unusual effort to guarantee job for high-school graduates through "local compacts between business, students, and school districts." And for the state's 1,000 "most able graduates," he proposed $2 million to establish "scholarships of excellence."
One of the budget's most controversial features, according to Tom Conroy, a spokesman for the Governor, is a $34-million cut in the school-aid formula's "save harmless" provision, which now prevents districts from receiving less than in the previous year.
This provision is inequitable because it benefits districts where school enrollment is on the decline, Mr. Conroy said. adding that the stage is set for a confrontation between the Governor and the Republican-controlled state senate.
Ohio 'Stable' Funding Proposed
Legislation requiring the licensing of contractors who remove asbestos from schools will be one of several education-related measures promoted by Gov. Richard F. Celeste during the legislature's 1986 session.
Although asbestos in schools is not a problem of "scandalous" proportions in the state, said Carla Edlefson, a spokesman for the Governor, "we have a lot that still needs to be taken care of. This is just one part of an overall effort to work on the asbestos problem."
"Otherwise," Ms. Edlefson added, "there will not be a lot in the way of new education initiatives this year."
State funding for public schools is "stable," Ms. Edlefson said, noting that the legislature appropriated a total of 6 billion for state aid to precollegiate education when it approved its biennial budget for fiscal 1985-86 and 1986-87 last year.
''There's no talk of budget cuts. We're in good shape. Our revenues are coming in right on estimate,” she said.
Governor Celeste, she said, is likely to take steps to ensure that all state-lottery profits continue to be channeled to elementary and secondary education. In fiscal 1985-86. the lottery brought an additional $340 million to public schools. All lottery profits have gone directly to the schools since 1983.
Legislative action is also likely on a statewide achievement-testing proposal that died in the last session and on proposals to expand job-training and employment services for youth.
Rhode Island Ending Teacher Strikes
Gov. EdwardD. DiPrete vowed this month to "vigorously seek passage of teacher-impasse legislation" that he said would prevent recurrences of strikes such as that in Pawtucket last fall, in which several teachers ' were jailed prior to a settlement.
'This should mark the year in which teacher strikes are permanently ended in Rhode Island," Mr. I Diprete, a Republican, said in his address.
The Governor, who took office one year ago, is not scheduled to release his budget proposals until next month, a spokesman said. Education spending is expected to increase, however, because last year lawmakers approved a five-year plan to raise the state's share of precollegiate-education costs by 2 percent a year.
As part of that funding increase, the Governor said he would ask the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education to require all school districts to provide "necessary and up-to-date textbooks and other instructional materials" for all public-school students.
He also announced a new three-pronged effort called “Focus on the Family," which he said would include new funds for at-risk children, dropout-prevention programs, substance-abuse control, and expanded day-care services.
Mr. DiPrete also pledged his support for increased state aid for Rhode Island's federally funded Head Start programs. The programs' directors had appealed to the state for some $300,000 late last year, citing increased costs and declining revenues.
Nancy Martin, a spokesman for the Governor, said the teacher-impasse legislation he supports would take the form of "last-best-offer" binding arbitration.
South Dakota Not Much Action
Gov. William J . Janklow barely mentioned education in his final state-of-the-state address last week. Last year, he introduced a list of education proposals.
The lack of educational initiatives I at the end of Governor Janklow's two terms is a result of a combination of a poor economic situation and decreasing enrollments in the state, according to Jim Soyer, aide to the Governor.
In his address, the Governor asked for a $5-million increase in education aid for next year, less than half the increase granted to education last year.
As was the case last year, less than one-fourth of the state· budget is slated for education. The proposed budget is $373.7 million, including 83.6 million in education funding. In I addition to direct aid, the state will continue to finance a property-tax replacement fund that funnels $40 million in tax dollars back to localities for discretionary use. According to Mr. Soyer, an average of 60 percent of these discretionary funds goes to education.
Governor Janklow recommended a modification of the "family-option" law passed last year that allows students from very small schools to transfer to adjacent districts. It would allow the transfers also to take place from large schools to small schools.
The Governor also requested a fund for loans to small school districts that are considering consolidation with other districts but need money to facilitate the move. The loans would go for building new schools, according to Dannette Zickrick, spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Education.
Last year's education reforms, though enacted, have for the most part not been implemented because they must receive voter approval in a statewide referendum this November. They include: a career-ladder system for teachers, the family option program, five days of state paid inservice training, and an expanded school calendar.
Utah More Students, Fewer Dollars
In his state-of-the-state message last week, Gov. Norman H. Bangerter again told Utah legislators that their most immediate challenge is to provide a high-quality education for the state's booming school-age population.
State officials predict that public school enrollments will increase by 132,000 students, or 31 percent, over the next 10 years. Over the same period, higher-education enrollments are expected to increase by 40 percent.
"Our state's financial resources are not growing anywhere near these rates of enrollment growth," Governor Bangerter said.
In December, the Governor declared a "state of alert" in education and submitted proposals to relieve the overcrowding in an "Agenda for Leadership in Educational Resources for Tomorrow" (alert).
Because a much higher percentage of Utah's population is of school age than the national average, the Governor's budget message said, "it is essential for us to look at methods to provide quality education with fewer dollars than other states.
ALERT contains only one proposal for increased spending- a supplemental appropriation of $1 million in the current fiscal year to be made available to school districts to train and recruit volunteers.
Other ALERT proposals are: implementing year-round or double sessions, reducing class sizes in grades K-2, exploring reduced services, supporting recently enacted reform efforts such as a state career ladder and a core curriculum, and improving cooperation between public schools, business, and higher education.
To reduce anticipated overcrowding at the state's colleges and universities, ALERT recommends limiting enrollments at some campuses and greatly expanding the role of community colleges.
For fiscal 1987, Governor Bangerter proposed that the legislature appropriate $659 million for schools, an increase of 6.5 percent over this year's level. Of that total, $9.9 million is new funding for the career ladder program, less than the $19.8million that officials estimate is needed to complete the program.
He also recommended that the legislature increase property taxes statewide by 0.9 mills, providing $8million more for education. The budget estimates that total spending on education-including federal, state, and local funding-will increase 5.5 percent from current levels, to $974 million.
Overall, the Governor proposed a $2.7-billion fiscal 1987 budget, which amounts to a 1.9 percent increase in spending; the state's population is expected to grow by 1.7 percent next year.
Utah faces an anticipated revenue shortfall of $25 million this year, which the Governor proposes to cover with funds from a state I emergency fund.
Vermont More Aid, New Initiatives
Despite a lingering budget deficit, Gov. Madeleine M. Kunin has recommended an $l1-million increase in state education aid and a variety of new programs for fiscal 1987.
If approved by the legislature, Ms. Kunin's proposal would raise equalized aid by about 14 percent from $78.7 million to $89.8 million-said John Dooley, the Governor's secretary of administration. Funds for the education department would increase another $1.8 million, he said.
Overall, Governor Kunin, a Democrat, is recommending a 9 percent increase in general-fund spending, from $388 million in fiscal 1986 to $423 million, Mr. Dooley said. She called for no new taxes, but in a combined state-of-the-state address and budget message recommended a "revenue-neutral tax independence bill" that would decouple Vermont from the federal income-tax system and freeze the existing state income tax at 24 percent.
Ms. Kunin said the tax-reform bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would cost Vermont up to $18 million a year because of cuts in personal tax rates.
She also called for a "Gramm-Rudman contingency fund" of up to $5 million, which she said would protect the state from the "automatic, faceless cuts" of the federal deficit-reduction plan.
In other school-related matters, the Governor urged lawmakers to renew the state's commitment to school-finance equity and endorsed the concept of a statewide property tax. Vermont's existing equalization formula expires in 1987, along with tax surcharges that help fund it.
The Governor also called for regular auditing of school budgets, improved evaluation measures of good schools, and a "merit-school program" that would target increased aid to schools that "succeed in improving quality."
She announced a volunteer public-service program for high-school students called "Servermont," a new preschool initiative called "Good Start" for children ages 1 to 5, and pledged support for model kindergartens, teen-age-pregnancy prevention programs, and expanded child-care services.
She also asked for legislation that would raise the drinking age to 21.
Virginia Continued Commitment
Gov. Charles S. Robb, who stepped down this month, has left the Virginia legislature with a controversial proposal for full funding of the state's "standards of quality" in education, including mandatory raises for teachers.
At $4.02 billion, elementary and secondary education is the largest line item in the Governor's $18.4 billion budget plan for 1986-88 and represents a 20 percent increase over the current two-year cycle.
Governor Robb included $376 million to aid districts in meeting basic educational standards, siding with the state department of education in a dispute with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. The department had estimated the state's full share at $395 million, while the legislative watchdog group, using a new method of cost calculation, had said that $192 million would be sufficient.
If approved, this appropriation would fund 12.8 percent raises for teachers in each of the next two years. Increases of at least 10 percent would be mandatory in districts where salaries are below $24,537 in 1986-87 and $26,897 in 1987-88levels that approximate the national median for teacher salaries-according to Myron E. Cale, associate superintendent of education for administration and finance.
Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, who was sworn in Jan. 11, endorsed his predecessor's education proposals in a "State of the Commonwealth" address, while adding one of his own: an additional guidance counselor for every 1,000 elementary students.
The new governor pledged to continue efforts to raise teacher salaries, setting a goal of reaching the national mean by the end of his four-year term.
"I will be the chief public advocate for quality public education," Mr. Baliles said. "My commitment and leadership will go far beyond funding," he added, promising to "ask the [state] board of education to draft the blueprint that will place Virginia in the first rank of educational systems in this nation."
West Virginia Good Schools Mean Growth
Although creating new jobs and improving West Virginia's depressed economy continue to be top priorities, Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr., said in his state-of-the-state address this month that the needs of education "cannot be placed far behind."
"The quality of a state's educational system and the determination shown by the government and people of a state to improve or maintain the quality of that system," the Governor said, "can be a crucial element in locational decisions when companies and businesses are seeking sites for administrative, processing, and research centers and plants."
Governor Moore has proposed a total state budget of$1.59 billion for the coming fiscal year, up 2 percent over last year's $1.56 billion. Of that amount, he is asking for $761.4 million to help finance elementary and secondary schools, an increase of about 5 percent—or $35 million—over last year’s $725.4 million.
The state has been under a court order since 1982 to increase state education spending in grades K-12 by some $1 billion.
The Governor proposed no new taxes to support his budget, because, he said, "none are needed."
In his address, the Governor requested a 5 percent pay increase, the same as last year's, for all state school personnel, including teachers, support staff, and employees in higher education. This year the average teacher salary in the state is $20,627, according to an education-department spokesman.
The Governor also provided $5.6million in his budget for equalizing teacher salaries. "I insist that it be approved," he told lawmakers, who last year had earmarked the first $7 million in possible surplus funds for teacher-salary equalization; the Governor vetoed that measure, claiming it usurped his prerogative as the state's chief fiscal officer.
In addition, Governor Moore asked legislators to begin developing a merit-pay scheme for teachers. "I realize the great debate that [merit pay] engenders, but put the politics of the issue aside and begin some hearings on this issue," he said. "West Virginians demand it, the education system demands it, and we must have it."
The Governor also proposed major changes in the governance structure of the state's system of higher education.
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