Legislative Update

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The following are summaries of final action by legislatures on state education budgets and other education-related matters.


Governor: Pete Wilson (R)

FY 1997 state budget: $47.25 billion
FY 1997 K-12 budget: $19.06 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $16.40 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +16.2 percent


  • Budget includes $771 million for reducing class sizes to 20 students in early grades. Another $200 million was approved for additional space. Gov. Wilson also signed bill allowing alternative teacher credentialing so more instructors can be hired.
  • Lawmakers failed to put school-construction bond initiative on November ballot, despite arguments that more funds are needed to accommodate reduced classes.
  • Budget appropriates $200 million for early-childhood reading initiatives.
  • Lawmakers approved $5 million for 20 single-sex academies that will serve at-risk youths.
  • Gov. Wilson is expected to sign school-reform bill that would collapse 26 categorical programs into two broad school-improvement and staff-development initiatives funded at $530 million.


Governor: John Engler (R)

FY 1997 state budget: $8.21 billion
FY 1997 K-12 budget: $297.2 million
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $596.4 million
Percent change K-12 budget: -50.1 percent


  • Further adjusting its school-finance system, Michigan lawmakers substantially raised the percentage of state income-tax receipts earmarked for education. Lawmakers compensated by decreasing the level of general-fund appropriations for K-12, the budget category shown above.
  • Overall state spending on K-12 education will rise in fiscal 1997 to $8.51 billion, up from $8.24 billion in 1996--a 3.3 percent increase.
  • Lawmakers boosted basic state funding by $390 million for fiscal 1997. They cut categorical funding for adult education from $185 million in 1996 to $80 million.
  • Gov. Engler signed bill that will allow students in an intermediate school district to attend any school within the district that is accepting outside students. So far, many districts have been reluctant to accept outside students under the open-enrollment law.


Governor: Christine Todd Whitman (R)

FY 1997 state budget: $15.98 billion
FY 1997 K-12 budget: $4.83 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $4.77 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +1.1 percent


  • Total state aid to local school systems edged up by $47 million. In response to a court order to equalize funding in rich and poor districts, state aid to 30 neediest districts rose by $60 million, offset by cuts to districts with greater wealth or declining enrollment. Governor and legislators still working on proposals to overhaul school-finance system.
  • Legislation was enacted authorizing teachers, parents, businesses, or colleges to open up to 135 publicly financed charter schools over next four years. The law allows existing schools to become charter schools if a majority of parents and teachers approve.
  • Lawmakers approved legislation allowing districts to require students to wear uniforms.
  • The legislature also enacted a law requiring school buses to be equipped with six-foot safety bars designed to keep children within drivers' range of vision.


Governor: George E. Pataki (R)

FY 1997 state budget: $33.1 billion
FY 1997 K-12 budget: $10.2 billion
FY 1996 K-12 budget: $9.8 billion
Percent change K-12 budget: +4.1 percent


  • Legislature authorized nearly $350 million more in state aid to districts, nixing governor's attempts to lessen increases.
  • Lawmakers also granted residents of small-city school districts the right to vote on local budgets.
  • Lawmakers approved governor's plan to require college students to maintain at least C average to receive tuition aid.
  • Board of regents voted to replace dual-track examination system for high school students with single, more rigorous series of tests all students will be required to pass.

Vol. 16, Issue 02

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