State of the States
School Funding Made Connecticut Priority
In her first major policy speech since winning election in her own right, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell last week proposed large increases in education spending, as well as new accountability measures for schools, students, and districts.
Having opted against giving a State of State address last month, the Republican governor offered her plan for improving education in a Feb. 7 budget address, in which she recommended $3.4 billion in additional state spending on schools over the next five years.
To be paid for in part by increased income taxes, that plan would hike the state’s K-12 budget of about $2.3 billion to about $2.6 billion for fiscal 2008. Most of the new money would go for a grant program aimed at equalizing spending in wealthy and poor districts.
Gov. Rell also proposed spending $41 million over the next two years to add about 4,100 state-subsidized preschool slots to the existing 7,000.
In return for the new funding, she called for new expectations for performance, including a high school exit exam for students. She also said the state would intervene more aggressively in low-performing districts and schools, requiring some to provide all-day kindergarten.
“My education plan invests in children,” she said. “And I firmly believe it will save billions of dollars and thousands of young lives for generations to come.”
Ms. Rell, then the lieutenant governor, took over when the state’s previous governor resigned amid scandal in 2004. She was elected to a full term last fall.
Vol. 26, Issue 23, Page 18