News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Colorado Adopts Tuition Savings Plan

Colorado is the 11th state to launch a prepaid college-tuition program.

The law allows parents to invest money in a tax-deferred account for the college education of a child. The benefits for parents include a contract for two or four years of tuition and fees at any Colorado state university as well as being taxed at the student's rate when the money is withdrawn. The state will invest the money in a trust fund so that interest will cover increases in college costs.

The program takes effect next fall. Students will be able to use the money in their accounts at any college in the United States.

Utah Lawmakers Rethink Appointments

A Utah legislative panel has endorsed a bill that would remove the governor's authority to nominate candidates to the state board of education.

The action by the joint state and local affairs committee came after Republican Gov. Michael O. Leavitt nominated his brother-in-law for a seat on the state board. Morris Poole, who is married to the sister of Gov. Leavitt's wife, failed to win election to that board seat last month. Under the state's complex, 6-year-old selection system for the board, the governor chooses two nominees for each open seat from among names presented by a nominating committee. The public then elects one of the two to the board.

The measure approved by the legislative panel on Nov. 21 would eliminate the nominating committee as well as the governor's authority to designate candidates. The proposal goes before lawmakers next year.

Virginia Plan Would Free Construction Funds

Gov. George F. Allen of Virginia has proposed revising the state's rules for school construction funding in an attempt to make borrowing for construction simpler for school districts.

The measure unveiled last month, which will be included in the governor's fiscal 1998 budget proposal and must be approved by the legislature, would allow districts to spend some of the construction bond proceeds they are now required to keep in a reserve fund. With the change, districts would have an expanded buying power estimated at $200 million each year for the next five years.

The proposal would also give districts flexibility to use the extra reserve funds for more than long-term construction projects.

"Locals can apply for more money to upgrade electrical and educational-technology equipment, not just pay for brick and mortar," said Greg Crist, a spokesman for the Republican governor.

The districts would continue to be responsible for repaying the bonds, he said.

Vol. 16, Issue 14

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