Legislative Update

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Governor's Proposal


Governor: Mike Foster (R)

FY 1997 proposed state budget: $5.01 billion
FY 1997 proposed K-12 budget: $1.91 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.87 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +2.14 percent


  • Proposed K-12 budget does not include an additional $61 million governor proposes for teacher-salary increases that he promised during his election campaign.
  • Governor proposes phasing out controversial teacher-evaluation program; he requested $1.5 million for a program that currently costs $5.4 million. State now evaluates beginning teachers, and districts evaluate veteran teachers using state guidelines. Mr. Foster has said that the program is ineffective and teacher evaluation should be a mostly local function.
  • In a special session, lawmakers rejected Mr. Foster's proposal to allow the governor to make limited cuts in basic state school grants without legislative approval. Currently, if the governor wants to cut the funds in the middle of a fiscal year, each chamber of the legislature must approve by a two-thirds vote.

Final Action


Governor: Benjamin J. Cayetano (D)

FY 1997 state budget: $3.1 billion
FY 1997 K-12 budget: $696 million
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $722 million
Percent change K-12 budget: -3.6 percent


  • Supplementary budget applies to second year of two-year process. Reduction takes into account across-the-board spending limits called for by the governor.
  • Legislature approved $1.8 million to cover classroom utility costs that were mistakenly underfunded last year. State education department says it still may be short $1.2 million for water and telephone costs.
  • Budget includes funds to hire 77 new teachers to accommodate growing enrollment in Hawaii's unique statewide school system.
  • New law increases from 10 to 92 days the suspension for students found with knives, drugs, or alcohol in school.


Governor: Michael O. Leavitt (R)

FY 1997 state budget: $3.0 billion
FY 1997 K-12 budget: $1.45 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $1.27 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +14.17 percent


  • Lawmakers increased state aid after property-tax relief was approved to cut local school spending by about $30 million.
  • Teachers will get raises averaging about 4 percent.
  • Gov. Leavitt signed a law giving school boards authority to ban controversial extracurricular clubs; the move follows the Salt Lake City district's decision to ban all such clubs rather than allow a proposed support group for gay students. Measure will likely be challenged in court as a violation of federal equal-access law.

Vol. 15, Issue 35

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