News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup

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Ala. Special Session Ends Without Action

A school funding crisis in Alabama remained unresolved last week, after the state legislature failed to take action during a special session called to address the situation.

Because of a shortfall in tax revenue, the state faces the prospect of sizable cuts to this year's budget for K-12 and higher education. The $4.3 billion Education Trust Fund is short by some $266 million. ("In Ala. Budget Crisis, It's Schools vs. Colleges," March 7, 2001.)

Gov. Donald Siegelman had asked the legislature during the special session to approve a package of bills he said would moderate the impact of the cuts that he was obliged to make under state law. One effect of the Democratic governor's package would have been to make colleges and universities take deeper cuts than schools. But the weeklong session ended with no legislation to address the funding crisis.

Observers say all eyes are now on the Alabama Supreme Court, which is considering a lawsuit brought by the Alabama Association of School Boards and individual districts to block much of the proposed K-12 cuts. The high court late last month issued an order temporarily blocking a circuit court ruling in the case that would have stopped the governor from making cuts to most precollegiate expenditures.

—Erik W. Robelen

Wisconsin Chief's Race Down to Two Educators

Wisconsin voters have eliminated all but a high school principal and a teacher from a pool of seven candidates in the race for state superintendent of public instruction.

During a primary election held last month, Elizabeth Burmaster, the principal of Madison West High School in Madison, received 22 percent of the vote, according to the state board of elections. Linda Cross, an English teacher at Hortonville High School in Hortonville, garnered 23 percent of the vote. The two will square off in an election for the nonpartisan state chief's post that is scheduled for April 3.

Ms. Cross twice lost elections for the position to state schools Superintendent John T. Benson, who has held the job since 1993. He announced his plans for retirement a year ago.

—Julie Blair

Vol. 20, Issue 26, Page 22

Published in Print: March 14, 2001, as News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
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