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Bringing to a close a stormy two-month special session, Colorado's Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Governor, Roy Romer, have enacted into law a compromise school-finance plan designed to deal with an estimated education-funding shortfall for next fiscal year of more than $350 million.

"There is more good than bad and therefore I'll sign it," Governor Romer said in accepting the bill Nov. 8, hours after lawmakers had given their final approval.

The Governor had vetoed an earlier version of the bill, saying it subjected the state budget to "credit card spending."

The finance measure seeks to cut the projected education deficit to about $105 million by trimming back scheduled funding increases for Colorado schools and by reducing an inflation adjustment from 3 percent to 1 percent over the first half of 1992.

The bill also creates an 18-month fiscal period that begins Jan. 1, 1992, and will eventually bring the school budget year into line with the state fiscal year.

Passage of the bill allows local school districts to finalize their budgets, although many district officials suggested that the measure would require them to make further budget cuts.

Education advocates in the state were disappointed that legislators did not give serious consideration to a tax increase to provide full funding called for in a 1988 school-finance-reform law.

Governor-elect Kirk Fordice of Mississippi has proclaimed the death of the school-reform program championed by his defeated opponent in this month's election, Gov. Ray Mabus.

Mr. Fordice, a Republican, had vowed during his campaign to kill the Better Education for Success Tomorrow bill, which Mr. Mabus proposed and the legislature approved but left unfunded.

The program would be replaced, Mr. Fordice said in his first public appearance after his upset victory, by an education-reform strategy centered around an open-enrollment plan and closely resembling President Bush's school-improvement legislation.

While the REST program called for a $185-million increase in funding for the schools, Mr. Fordice contended that "money is not the answer to the education problem," and promised low-cost "radical changes."

Vol. 11, Issue 12, Page 24

Published in Print: November 20, 1991, as News Updates
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