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Gov. Evan Mecham of Arizona late last month approved a $2.6-billion state budget for fiscal 1988 that includes $1.07 billion for precollegiate education, about 8 percent above its current funding level.

The budget provides $17.8 million to raise teachers' salaries to an average of $26,472, up from $25,972. It also earmarks $4 million to add five school districts to Arizona's career-ladder pilot program. (See Education Week, May 27, 1987.)

The Governor's action ended speculation over whether he would veto the legislature's spending plan. Mr. Mecham had expressed dissatisfaction with the bill's funding level for higher education, which will receive about $432 million next year, $16 million more than he had requested.--A.P.

Nebraska's unicameral legislature has voted to reduce state support for precollegiate education in the upcoming biennium.

In the session that ended late last month, lawmakers set state funding for elementary and secondary schools at $123.4 million for fiscal 1988, and $123.7 million for fiscal 1989. Gov. Kay A. Orr signed the spending bill last week.

Schools received $125.9 million in fiscal 1987 under the single-year budget approved by lawmakers last year. This year, the legislature voted to put the state on a two-year budget cycle.

In approving the $1.8-billion spending plan, lawmakers rejected Governor Orr's call last February to restore $3.8 million that was cut in December from the school-aid budget for the current fiscal year. They also rejected the Governor's request to raise funding for special education in the 1987-89 biennium by a total of $13.6 million over its current level.

"We were disappointed, but we weren't surprised,'' said Barc Bayley, spokesman for the Nebraska State Education Association. "The states all around us did something upward for education, but we moved back.''

During the past five years, the state has reduced funding for education by 8 percent, according to the union.

The budget measure failed to provide funds for a package of education reforms approved by the legislature three years ago.

In other action, the legislature voted to allow school districts to cancel their contracts with their educational-service units for one year.

The units are taxing districts that provide services that most small districts cannot afford to provide on their own, such as specialized teachers, films, books, and teacher training. Many larger districts that can afford such services did not want to pay additional funds to the units.--K.G.

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