N.J. Governor Seeks Tax Cut, More Use of Magnet, Charter Schools
In her inaugural address last week, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey asked the state legislature to enact a 5 percent income-tax cut retroactive to Jan. 1.
Mrs. Whitman also proposed retroactive cuts in corporate business taxes and eliminating income taxes for individuals earning less than $7,500 a year.
The Governor campaigned on a promise to cut income taxes by 30 percent--despite the need to come up with a school-finance plan that will satisfy a court order to funnel more money to poor school districts.
Mrs. Whitman did not mention that issue in her speech, but did call for the development of magnet and charter schools to encourage innovation in public education.
"Schools should compete for the chance to teach our children,'' Mrs. Whitman said.
Governor Whitman said that she would allow Mayor Bret Schundler of Jersey City to test a voucher program that includes public and private schools.
She also proposed boot camps and other alternatives "to teach young people who are toying with the criminal life that they want to go straight instead.''
In addition, Mrs. Whitman said she would take politics out of the education department by restoring the commissioner's post to a five-year term. Currently, the commissioner serves a four-year term concurrent with the Governor's.
Romer Backs Programs For At-Risk Youths
Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado focused his State of the State Address on the topic of juvenile violence, calling for an increased role for public schools in keeping children out of trouble.
The Governor referred to last fall's special session to deal with juvenile violence as "the iron fist.'' Legislators passed 10 laws, including a prohibition on juveniles possessing handguns and a law creating a new youthful-offender system.
"We have to follow up with a helping hand,'' Mr. Romer said. "Now the best anti-crime tools we have are good public schools and programs that help families stay together.''
He proposed $1 million in the state budget to expand parenting-support programs, and another $1.3 million to double the number of family-support centers.
Gov. Romer also proposed $2 million for competitive grants for a new "open-schools program'' in which communities would keep school buildings open after hours for youth services and activities.
Mr. Romer also proposed making $325,000 in start-up grants to charter schools that focus on students at risk of dropping out.
In addition, the Governor called the state's school-funding law
unfair, and agreed with a proposal to eliminate current funding
Andrus Would Increase Salaries, School Aid
Gov. Cecil B. Andrus of Idaho has recommended that the state devote 80 percent of new revenues generated by its booming economy to elementary and secondary education.
In his budget address, Governor Andrus proposed a $635.3 million appropriation for education in fiscal year 1995, a $107.3 million, or 20 percent, increase over 1994.
Mr. Andrus proposed using $16.6 million of those funds to raise teacher salaries in the lowest-paying districts to make them competitive with average pay in six surrounding states. Another $16.6 million would finance a 2.5 percent raise for all public school employees.
He also proposed funding professional-development scholarships for educators, before- and after-school programs for young children, and educational technology.
In his State of the State Address, the Governor suggested that his proposals would help to eliminate the inequities targeted by an ongoing school-finance lawsuit.
"If you adopt my recommendations to fund public education, you will
end the senseless litigation that looms over this session of the
legislature,'' he said.
Gov. Weld Proposes Welfare-Reform Plan
As the centerpiece of his State of the State Address, Gov. William F. Weld of Massachusetts this month proposed a welfare-reform plan that would eliminate cash aid.
The money that now goes to able-bodied welfare recipients would instead underwrite day care, health care, food stamps and other nutritional assistance, and employment and education services.
Mr. Weld said half of the state's welfare caseload--about 50,000
families--would lose cash benefits. Able-bodied heads of households
would have to find jobs or perform community service.
Campbell Proposes Programs for Teachers
In his State of the State Address last week, Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. of South Carolina pledged to accelerate his education-reform efforts with a $1.8 million training program for mathematics and science teachers and a 3.6 percent pay raise for all teachers.
As part of a safe-schools program, the Governor proposed detaining
in a new juvenile boot camp for 60 days any student carrying a weapon
on to school grounds.
Allen Promises School-Reform Plan
In his first address to the legislature, Gov. George Allen of Virginia last week promised a school-reform plan that he said would promote academic excellence, accountability, community control of schools, and parent involvement.
The "champion schools'' initiative, which the Governor plans to submit next January, will likely include new standards and assessments and a school-choice program, said Beverly H. Sgro, the state education secretary.
Mr. Allen said he would also work to eliminate "the expensive and
misguided experiment known as outcomes-based education'' because it
focuses on attitudes and not academics.--JESSICA PORTNER
Vol. 13, Issue 18