Missouri Mourns Governor;
Carnahan Spurred Reforms
Gov. Mel Carnahan of Missouri, a Democrat who was challenging Republican incumbent John Ashcroft in next month’s election for a seat in the U.S. Senate, died last week in a plane crash.
He was 66.
First elected governor in 1992, Mr. Carnahan’s impact on education in Missouri included a far-reaching 1993 school improvement initiative paid for with a $315 million tax increase.
In addition to revamping the state’s method of financing education, that law set up a new system of academic standards, assessments, and accountability requirements for Missouri public schools. That system is still in the process of being fully phased in.
In his Senate campaign, the late governor called for using the projected federal budget surplus to increase funding for schools.
Following his death, political and education leaders in Missouri said Mr. Carnahan’s greatest legacy might well be his role in reshaping the state’s public schools.
Also killed in the Oct. 16 crash were Mr. Carnahan’s son, Roger Carnahan, who was flying the Cessna 335, and Chris Sifford, a senior adviser working on the campaign.
The state’s lieutenant governor, Roger B. Wilson, was sworn in last week as acting governor.
N.H. Schools Lose Out to Tax Relief
Most of the extra education dollars New Hampshire gave to local communities last year went to property-tax relief rather than to schools, a study by a think tank has found.
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|from The Josiah Bartlett Center.|
To stave off a potential school funding crisis, Granite State lawmakers approved a stopgap school funding measure last year that set aside an extra $302 million for schooling.
But the report released last week by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy in Concord, N.H., says schools received only $84.6 million of that amount. Of the rest, $187 million went for local tax relief and $30 million went for municipal spending.
Part of the problem, according to the study’s author, Daphne A. Kenyon, was that the extra funds came months after most districts had set their budgets. Because most New Hampshire municipalities use a town-meeting form of government, local officials would have had to call all the voters back to approve new spending changes.
The report came as hearings opened last week on a lawsuit challenging the spending plan. A coalition of property-rich towns that pay more taxes under the new formula are challenging its constitutionality. But the legislature was already planning to revisit the plan, the state’s third in less than a decade, before it expires next year.