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The Oregon House last week narrowly approved a $1.064 billion school-finance bill that would provide $300 million less than school officials say they will need to maintain existing services in the 1993-94 school year.

The cuts were even greater than those proposed by Gov. Barbara Roberts, who had recommended some $200 million in cuts for fiscal 1994 in her budget proposal.

The state has been facing a fiscal crisis precipitated by Measure 5, a property-tax limitation approved by voters in 1990. The initiative requires the state to reimburse school districts for revenues lost as a result of lower property taxes during the five-year phase-in of the initiative. (See Education Week, March 3, 1993.)

The state can still make cuts, however, in the $1 billion in general-fund aid it provides to districts.

The House split along partisan lines on the school-finance bill, with 31 Republicans voting in favor of the measure and 26 Democrats and one Republican voting against it.

A Maryland Senate committee has rejected a bill to eliminate a state requirement that students perform community service in order to graduate from high school.

The Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee voted 6 to 5 last month to kill the bill overturning the community-service requirement.

Last summer, the state board of education approved a rule making Maryland the first state to mandate community service by students. The requirement, which goes into effect this fall, calls for students to perform either 75 hours of community service during the middle and high school years, or to complete a locally designed program approved by the state superintendent. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

In an effort to lessen the burden on fast-growing school districts, the Utah Senate has passed a bill revising a capital-funding-equalization law passed last year.

The Senate bill would scale back the so-called "Robin Hood'' law, which requires that districts receiving property-tax revenues above the state average contribute to a fund that redistributes the money to poorer districts. The equalization plan applies to districts' capital budgets, but not to their general-operating funds.

Some fast-growing counties have told lawmakers that they need to keep more of their rising property-tax revenues to build schools to meet enrollment growth.

The bill passed last month would lower the amount of property-tax millage that would be subject to equalization over a five-year phase-in period.

Vol. 12, Issue 25

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