News in Brief

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Wisconsin voters appear to have narrowly defeated a constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for a controversial plan to place drastic limits on property taxes.

Known as the "3 percent solution," the plan would have held property taxes to 3 percent of a family's house4hold income. Businesses, families with incomes higher than $83,000, and nonresidents would not have been affected by the proposal.

The plan's proponents estimated that it would have resulted in a loss of $400 million annually in tax revenue for schools and local governments--an amount that they hoped to replace with state funds.

The plan's enactment hinged on passage April 4 of a referendum to strike the "tax uniformity" clause from the state constitution. The clause requires that all property in the state be taxed at an equal rate.

The ballot question was defeated by a vote of 406,154 to 405,504, according to Representative Joseph Wineke, a Democrat from Verona who developed the plan.

Mr. Wineke said election officials are recounting ballots and that final results of the referendum will be available by May 15.

The Iowa legislature has approved a measure to ban corporal punishment in all schools statewide.

Sponsored by Senator Joy Corning, a Cedar Falls Republican, the ban would apply to all public and private elementary and secondary schools. It would allow teachers to use "reasonable and necessary" force only in self-defense, to protect others, or to quell a disturbance.

The measure now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad, who has not publicly indicated whether he will sign it into law.

Although the bill was endorsed by most of the state's education groups, it was opposed by the Iowa School Boards Association, which contends that decisions on corporal punishment should be made at the local level.

Gov. B. Evan Bayh of Indiana has vetoed a budget measure approved by the legislature, saying it would require a "substantial tax increase" that he cannot support.

The bill would have raised basic state school aid by $75 million, or 7 percent above the current spending level. Mr. Bayh had requested a 5 percent increase.

The legislature's school-aid proposal provided "more than what he thought he could sustain without a tax increase," according to a House legislative aide.

In his veto message, the Governor said his budget proposal would allow for "real increases in spending" for education and other programs without "sowing the seeds of an unnecessary tax increase."

A House-Senate conference committee had not developed an alternative budget as of late last week.

Tennessee teenagers convicted of drug and alcohol offenses could lose their driver's licenses beginning next October, under a law signed recently by Gov. Ned R. McWherter.

Students who commit violations between the ages of 13 and 17 could be denied licenses for one year by the state department of safety upon their first conviction, and for two years after their second conviction. The law requires all schools to publicize the new penalties by June 1.

"I know what it's like to be 15 or 16 years old," Governor McWherter said at a signing ceremony. "I don't think I would have done anything to risk losing my license."

The Utah School Superintendents Association has become the second group in the state to withdraw from Utah's largest education coalition.

The association voted on April 10 to end its association with the Utah Education Coordinating Council, an umbrella group that includes leaders of 25 education organizations.

Ell Sorenson, the president-elect of the administrators' group, said the action was a demonstration of unity with the Utah School Boards Association, which withdrew from the coalition last month. The school-boards group claimed the council was being used as a power base for the state school chief. (See Education Week, April 12, 1988.)

"Superintendents are executive directors and employees of the boards of education, so it makes sense that they would have to follow," Mr. Sorenson said.

A Minnesota House committee has voted against opening a statewide residential school for the arts next fall.

A school-funding bill approved by the House education committee included no funds for the proposed Minnesota School and Resource Center for the Arts. The measure also would delete the word "school" from the institution's title.

The full House is expected to vote on the bill this week.

Vol. 08, Issue 31

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