News In Brief

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Wisconsin lawmakers have failed to muster enough votes to override Gov. Tommy G. Thompson's veto of $36.8 million in financial aid to school districts.

The unsuccessful Oct. 16 override vote in the Assembly came on a bill that would have aided districts whose property-tax revenues had been reduced by redevelopment projects.

The vote marked the first attempt to overturn one of the record 457 vetoes Governor Thompson made in the state budget plan this year. (See Education Week, Sept. 4, 1991.)

A spokesman for the Governor said Mr. Thompson had vetoed the measure to stem the state's "temporary cash-flow problem," and had promised to replace it later in the year. But leaders of the legislature's Democratic majority said Mr. Thompson's proposal to restore the funds with proceeds from the state sales tax on cigarettes was not expected to pass.

"The easiest way to restore the aid was to override," said Assemblyman David Travis, the House majority leader, "But the Governor is very macho and whipped his troops in line to see that his veto was not overridden."

Mr. Thompson, a Republican, has never been overridden in two terms of office.

The Governor said he may call a special session this month to force consideration of his bill before school districts must meet a tax deadline.

Meanwhile, the legislature began another special session this month to take up education-reform proposals.

During the session, which will run concurrently with the regular legislative session, lawmakers will consider education proposals put forward by Mr. Thompson and 21 separate recommendations made by a task force appointed by the Governor to examine the state's school system.

The commission last December issued a long list of proposals that included allowing districts to contract with teachers in private practice and requiring them to come up with plans for comprehensive early-childhood services, including child care, kindergarten, and pre-kindergarten programs. (See Education Week, Dec. 5, 1990.)

Gov. Joan Finney of Kansas has appointed a task force of legislators and state officials to draft a plan to revamp the state's school-finance formula.

Ms. Finney decided to appoint the 16-member panel this month after Shawnee County District Judge Terry Bullock issued a ruling hinting that the legislature might have to revise the formula to keep it from being declared unconstitutional.

The existing school-finance formula has been challenged by 42 school districts, which have filed a total of four lawsuits.

While interpretations of the judge's ruling varied among state officials, Ms. Finney told local reporters that the judge "in effect" was arguing that because the existing system does not provide equal educational opportunity to every child, it might not satisfy the state constitution.

The task force is scheduled to prepare its recommendations by early December in order for them to be considered for inclusion in the Governor's budget proposal, said Anne Cook, a special assistant to Ms. Finney.

Vol. 11, Issue 09, Page 17

Published in Print: October 30, 1991, as News In Brief
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