States State of the States

State of the States 2010: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia, Vermont

January 19, 2010 9 min read

For complete coverage of this year’s governors’ speeches, check out State of the States 2010.

ALABAMA

Gov. Bob Riley (R) | Jan. 12

Gov. Riley announced that Alabama public schools would see a $400 million increase in his fiscal year 2011 budget proposal.

He also urged lawmakers to approve charter school legislation to better position the state for a slice of $4 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants from the economic stimulus, which are intended to reward states for making progress in certain education redesign areas. —Alyson Klein

ARIZONA

Gov. Janice K. Brewer (R) | Jan. 11

Gov. Brewer warned in her annual talk to lawmakers that she’d have to make further cuts in state jobs and services because of the state’s economic troubles, but still proposed several education reforms.

Among them, the Republican governor plans to work with the legislature to stop promotions of students who can’t read at the end of 3rd grade, and would like to strengthen the state’s online data system for schools. —Mary Ann Zehr

GEORGIA

Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) | Jan. 13

In a speech that referred to Thomas Paine and Alexis de Tocqueville and noted the pain and sacrifice Southern families endured during the Great Depression, Gov. Perdue urged the state legislature to make difficult budget choices now to spare greater economic crises in the generations to come.

In his final State of the State address, Gov. Perdue, who was scheduled to unveil his fiscal 2011 budget proposal on Jan. 15, called for restraint in public spending and redefinition of priorities across services, including education.

Mr. Perdue said a pay-for-performance component should be added to the current teacher-pay system. Such a system would award bonuses to those deemed effective based on classroom observations and growth in student achievement. —Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

IDAHO

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) | Jan. 11

Faced with a continuing fiscal squeeze, Gov. Otter said that his budget proposal would call for holding back $40 million in state spending, a 1.6 percent cut from last year’s appropriations—and that he could not spare public schools from cuts. K-12 education is receiving $1.23 billion in fiscal 2010, but that sum could be decreased by up to 1.5 percent because of a proposed budget reduction, due in part to declining revenue and a depleted rainy-day fund. The governor is proposing to cut K-12 by 2.4 percent in fiscal 2011.

Still, Gov. Otter touted recent improvements to education technology in his largely rural state. He said that by the end of the year, an additional 80 high schools will be connected to the state’s broadband network, enabling distance learning and other opportunities. The effort is being financed in part with funding from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, based in Boise, Idaho. —A.K.

ILLINOIS

Gov. Pat Quinn (D) | Jan. 13

In his annual speech to lawmakers, Gov. Quinn praised his state’s efforts to assemble a strong application for up to $500 million in the federal economic-stimulus program’s Race to the Top funding for public schools.

The governor noted that 340 school districts have signed on to the state’s application for the Race to the Top grants, and also hailed lawmakers for approving a measure last year that will allow more charter schools—60 in total—to open in Illinois. Mr. Quinn, who was elevated from his lieutenant governor’s position almost a year ago after the scandal-tainted Rod Blagojevich was forced out of the governor’s office, faces a strong primary challenge on Feb. 2 from the state’s comptroller.

Like most states, Illinois is grappling with a large deficit, and Gov. Quinn said state leaders will face difficult decisions this year to balance a budget that has a roughly $13 billion shortfall. He emphasized, however, that he wants to protect spending on K-12 education as well as higher education and early-childhood education programs.

Illinois’ general-fund budget for fiscal 2010 is $28.4 billion; roughly 27 percent of that is appropriated for K-12 education. —Lesli A. Maxwell

IOWA

Gov. Chet Culver (D) | Jan. 12

Despite a gloomy fiscal forecast in Iowa, Gov. Culver, a Democrat and former teacher, proposed a 2 percent increase for public education. And he asked lawmakers to use reserve funds to restore some $100 million in cuts to cash-strapped school districts.

The fiscal 2011 budget is still being worked out, but K-12 education received $2.4 billion in fiscal 2010, on a general-fund budget of $5.25 billion.

He also urged lawmakers to pass legislation requiring school districts to spend a portion of their cash reserves in tight times, instead of shifting the burden to local property tax payers.

Gov. Culver asked lawmakers to approve the last installment of Iowa’s four-year, $60 million commitment to expanding preschool. —A.K.

KANSAS

Gov. Mark Parkinson (D) | Jan. 11

Kansas faces a $400 million deficit in the next fiscal year, Gov. Mark Parkinson told legislators in his first State of the State address, and increases in the state’s sales and cigarette taxes are needed to help fill the gap.

Without those increases, he said, cuts would have to be made to the $3.1 billion Kansas plans to spend on K-12 education in the fiscal 2011 budget, an increase of approximately $32 million over the previous fiscal year.

“The alternative to coming up with this $400 million is not acceptable. It would require a round of cuts that would do years of damage to what we have built,” Gov. Parkinson said. —Dakarai I. Aarons

KENTUCKY

Gov. Steve Beshear (D) | Jan. 6

In his State of the Commonwealth speech, Gov. Beshear highlighted his efforts to isolate education from budget cuts and outlined plans to raise the state’s age for compulsory school attendance.

Gov. Beshear, a Democrat, said in his speech that the legislature had managed to pare $900 million in six successive rounds of cuts to the state’s 2010 budget, while maintaining support for students and teachers. (As enacted, that $9.6 billion budget provided $4.6 billion for pre-K-12 education.) He pledged to support the newly created Transforming Education in Kentucky initiative to improve curriculum, graduation rates, and teacher retention, and to implement new testing requirements passed by the legislature last year.

The governor also said he would support legislation to raise the age at which students are allowed to quit school and to make student transfers between the state’s public institutions of higher education more seamless.—Stephen Sawchuk

NEW JERSEY

Gov. Jon Corzine (D) | Jan. 12

In his fourth and final State of the State address, Gov. Corzine urged the public to remember him as a governor who made K-12 education a “cornerstone” of his term at the state’s helm. The former U.S. senator and Wall Street executive lost his job in November to Republican Chris Christie, who was due to be sworn in Jan. 19.

Mr. Corzine trumpeted the new school funding formula he pushed through the legislature in 2008, noting that it survived a state Supreme Court challenge. The formula assigns a basic dollar amount to each child and adds “weights” for extra needs such as poverty.

Mr. Corzine also called attention to his $4 billion school construction program and the expansion of full-day preschool to tens of thousands of 3- and 4-year-olds. —Catherine Gewertz

NEW YORK

Gov. David A. Paterson (D) | Jan. 6

Gov. Paterson has told state lawmakers that a multiyear fiscal-recovery plan is needed to bring the Empire State’s finances back into balance to avoid a repeat of such drastic budget measures as last month’s delay of $750 million in payments to school districts and local governments.

That move, made to keep the state from running out of cash as it struggled with how to close a $3.2 billion gap in the current fiscal year’s general-fund budget of roughly $55 billion, sparked a still-pending lawsuit from teachers’ unions and school officials. Roughly 3.1 million children are enrolled in New York’s K-12 public schools.

In his Jan. 6 address to lawmakers, the Democratic governor made no direct reference to K-12 education, but called for greater fiscal discipline, including a cap on spending, to help the state grapple with what is likely to be a deficit of $9 billion in fiscal 2011, which begins April 1. —L.A.M.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Gov. Mike Rounds (R) | Jan. 12

Now in his last year in office, Gov. Rounds spent much of his final State of the State address outlining what he sees as his accomplishments during the past eight years.

They include the state’s new virtual school, efforts to expand Internet access and videoconferencing capabilities for classrooms, and the development of a statewide student-data system. Gov. Rounds said these examples serve as evidence that South Dakota is equipping schools for today’s learning needs. —K.K.M.

WASHINGTON

Gov. Christine O. Gregoire (D) | Jan. 12

Despite having a $2.6 billion state budget hole to fill for the remainder of the fiscal 2009-11 biennium, which has a total budget of $30 billion, Gov. Gregoire is urging the legislature to preserve and strengthen an early-learning initiative started four years ago. In part, she says, lawmakers should adopt “All Start,” a voluntary program that would provide learning opportunities to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the state.

In her annual address, the governor also said she and the state education department will present this year a new teacher-evaluation system that will focus on “high-quality instruction, and student achievement and growth.” She asked the legislature to support the overhaul, which would also tie principals’ evaluations to student achievement for the first time.

Gov. Gregoire also called on legislators to lift the cap for school districts, which limits the amount of funds schools can raise through levies, and to finance levy equalization to make up for differences in such revenue among districts.

Lastly, although she acknowledged that budget troubles would persist into the 2011-13 biennium, Gov. Gregoire pushed to restore and preserve funds set aside for college-tuition assistance for low-income students. —Katie Ash

WEST VIRGINIA

Gov. Joe Manchin III (D) | Jan. 13

In his fifth State of the State address, West Virginia Gov. Manchin called on state legislators to pass a law that would enable districts to keep schools open 180 days a year for the Mountain State’s 268,000 K-12 students.

The Democratic governor also asked lawmakers to expand state borrowing authority to finance school safety improvements and other construction projects, pledged to enlarge a state program that provides free books to preschoolers, and said he would funnel $1 million into efforts by the Westport, Conn.-based Save the Children organization to improve health and economic opportunities for poor children in the state’s most rural counties.

—Debra Viadero

VERMONT

Gov. James H. Douglas (R) | Jan. 7

In his annual address to lawmakers, Gov. Douglas proposed a series of steps aimed at reining in education costs that he sees as excessive and plugging a $150 million state budget deficit.

If he gets his way, the state will trim the size of its teacher workforce by leaving half of retirement vacancies unfilled; consolidate its 290 school districts into as few as 12; and require teachers to shoulder more of the burden for their health-insurance costs. The governor also called for changes in the states 13-year-old education property-tax law. Mr. Douglas also wants to eliminate a state law that bars students from using distance-learning programs that are located out of state. —D. V.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as State of the States

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