States State of the States

State of the States 2009: Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia

February 23, 2009 3 min read
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Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.

HAWAII
GOV. LINDA LINGLE (R) • JAN. 26

In a speech heavily focused on the state’s economic and infrastructure challenges, Gov. Lingle touched on several initiatives that may affect K-12 schools.

Among them: a push for legislation to set up a new agency focusing on communications services, particularly broadband access and affordability; and an effort to make the import-dependent state more food self-sufficient by encouraging schools and other state agencies to purchase locally grown foods.

In her package of legislative proposals this year, Gov. Lingle is seeking an income tax credit offering incentives for businesses and individuals to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, education in public schools, and a stronger funding commitment to charter schools.—Mark W. Bomster

NEW HAMPSHIRE
GOV. JOHN LYNCH (D) • FEB. 12

Gov. Lynch outlined some harsh cost-saving measures in his budget address, but vowed to protect planned increases in state aid to schools from any spending cuts.

See Also

Read more from our updated collection of “2009 State of the States.”

Under the governor’s two-year budget plan, K-12 schools stand to gain an extra $246 million over the 2010-11 biennium, which would bring K-12 funding over that period to $2.09 billion, an increase of 6.6 percent. The boost in school aid is part of a new school funding formula that lawmakers approved last year, after years of wrangling over how to pay for schools.

While Mr. Lynch is no fan of the new school finance system, he said, “I also recognize that this was the formula approved by the legislature last session, and this is not the time for wholesale changes.”

Mr. Lynch’s proposed $11.3 billion state budget also calls for laying off up to 150 state employees, “unfunding” another 400 state jobs, closing a state school for children with severe emotional and behavioral problems, shutting down 16 courts and a prison, consolidating several state agencies, and raising highway tolls and other state fees. The Granite State faces a shortfall of $275 million this fiscal year.—Debra Viadero

RHODE ISLAND
GOV. DONALD L. CARCIERI (R) • FEB. 10

Although he outlined no new education initiatives in his annual address to lawmakers, Gov. Carcieri highlighted what he said has been “steady progress” in K-12 education in the state. He cited improved student scores in every subject and at every level on the New England Common Assessment Program tests, and a narrowing of the performance gap between urban and suburban schools.

The governor told lawmakers that cities and towns will need to “tighten their belts” and get concessions from workers’ unions on wages, pensions, health insurance costs, and work rules in dealing with a recession-stung state economy with 10 percent unemployment.

He also warned lawmakers against avoiding painful budget cuts by relying on the state’s share of funds expected under the federal economic-stimulus package. —Associated Press

TENNESSEE
GOV PHIL BREDESEN (D) • FEB. 9

In his seventh annual address to the legislature, Gov. Bredesen touted progress the state has made on education, including an overhaul of its education funding formula two years ago that boosted teacher salaries. Tennessee also has introduced new, tougher high school graduation requirements.

“If we educate our kids, if we keep them healthy and make sure there are good jobs for them to go to,” the governor said, “we’ll do just fine in the years ahead.”

Mr. Bredesen said he would likely submit a budget in March, once the state has had time to factor in expected federal stimulus money. The fiscal 2010 budget he’d been planning to present had nearly $900 million in cuts in a budget of about $27 billion. —Dakarai I. Aarons

WEST VIRGINIA
GOV. JOE MANCHIN III (D) • FEB. 11

Students who fail to meet state standards at either 3rd or 8th grade would be unable to move to the next grade under a proposal unveiled in Gov. Manchin’s State of the State speech.

Those grades mark critical periods in a student’s educational development, Gov. Manchin said. Allowing children to progress without meeting standards “is unfair to their parents, it is unfair to their classmates and, most of all, it is unfair to them,” he said. Such students would have to attend after-school programs, summer school, or be retained.

Although West Virginia is facing a budget shortfall, the governor said he planned no cuts, nor expansions to the state budget.

“We’ve been very disciplined and, under my watch, we will not write checks that our children can’t cash,” he said. The governor has proposed $1.89 billion in K-12 education funding for next fiscal year, a slight increase over this fiscal year’s budgeted amount of $1.84 billion.—Christina A. Samuels

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A version of this article appeared in the February 25, 2009 edition of Education Week

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