Education Week’s coverage of the governor’s speeches in 2011.
Gov. Robert Bentley (R), March 1
The governor used his first State of the State address to outline sacrifices he said everyone must make so the state can focus its limited money on essential services, including maintaining the current number of teaching jobs, keeping the student-teacher ratio at its current size, and holding the school year at its current length. Legislators had been concerned they would be asked to cut jobs and shorten the school year because of Alabama’s recession-riddled economy.
Bentley ran for governor with the support of the Alabama Education Association, but he laid out budget plans for education employees and state workers to pay more for their health insurance and retirement benefits. He also proposed eliminating benefits that state employees and school workers get for deferring their retirement. —Associated Press
Gov. Sean Parnell (R), Jan. 19
In his annual address to lawmakers, Gov. Parnell lauded the state’s growing economic prosperity, including the addition of private-sector jobs over the last year, at a time when many states are struggling to regain economic stability.
Gov. Parnell praised the first year of the Alaska Performance Scholarship, which he said would offer 9,000 high school seniors the opportunity to earn scholarships this year and could help 30,000 more over the next three years. He urged lawmakers to pass a sustainable funding mechanism to continue the program, which allows high school students to earn scholarships to higher education or vocational training if they opt for a pre-set, more rigorous curriculum. “Even now in its early stages, we are seeing encouraging signs that the power of high expectations is taking hold all across Alaska,” he said. —Katie Ash
Gov. Jan Brewer (R), Jan. 10
Gov. Brewer devoted her State of the State address to responding to the Jan. 8 shooting attack in Tucson on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which left six people dead.
The governor later released her education plan for pre-K through college in meetings with lawmakers and posted it on her website. The plan aims to improve data use and implement the common-core academic standards crafted by a state-led national initiative and accompanying assessments. It also seeks to develop high-quality teachers and support struggling schools.
The governor wants the state to create regional education centers that can provide school districts with professional development and technical assistance. She proposed creating a cadre of school turnaround experts through a leadership-training program. Her plan also says that the state needs to establish performance measures and benchmarks that match the student-achievement goals that have already been set by the state, and that those performance measures and benchmarks should be “public and transparent.”
Gov. Brewer’s budget for fiscal 2012 recommends a $51.9 million increase in education spending over the 2011 fiscal year to cover the costs of enrollment growth and inflation. —Mary Ann Zehr
Gov. Mike Beebe (D), Jan. 11
Gov. Beebe said in his address to legislators that the state’s anticipated small increase in revenue would be used for public education funding, and that his budget proposes a 2 percent per-pupil increase in state foundation funding, to $6,143 per pupil. The proposed K-12 budget for fiscal 2012 is $2.7 billion, up 3.7 percent from fiscal 2011.
In his State of the State address Jan. 11, Gov. Beebe also touted the state’s sixth-place ranking nationally in Quality Counts 2011, published by Education Week, up from 10th last year.
Gov. Beebe said the state had “a much bigger hill to climb” in addressing its higher education challenges. The state must double its number of college graduates by 2025, he said. He said he requested a 1 percent increase in higher education funding to help the state’s colleges with increased enrollment. He also said the state would have to address the financial barriers that block some students from completing degree requirements. —Michelle D. Anderson
Gov. Jerry Brown (D), Jan. 31
Having already proposed major spending cuts aimed at closing his state’s daunting budget gap, Gov. Brown used his first State of the State speech to urge Republican lawmakers to support his plan to put a series of tax extensions on the ballot, a move he argues is necessary to avert deep cuts to schools and other programs.
The newly elected governor has called for cutting $12.5 billion in spending in fiscal year 2011, out of a proposed general fund of $84.6 billion, in an effort to close a projected budget deficit of $25 billion. While many state programs and services would be slashed under his plan, K-12 spending would largely be spared from the pain.
In a relatively brief address to lawmakers, Mr. Brown, who previously governed the state from 1975 to 1983, said he had demonstrated his willingness to cut spending, and that he and lawmakers now need a “clear mandate” from voters on whether to make more cuts. He invoked recent pro-democracy protests in Tunisia and Egypt in questioning why California political leaders would “block a vote of the people.”
"[I]t would be unconscionable to tell the electors of this state that they have no right to decide whether it is better to extend current tax statutes another five years or chop another $12 billion out of schools, public safety, our universities, and our system for caring for the most vulnerable,” the governor said. “They have a right to vote on this plan. This state belongs to all of us, not just those of us in this chamber.” —Sean Cavanagh
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Jan. 13
Gov. Hickenlooper’s first State of the State address emphasized Colorado’s budgetary difficulties in the face of what he called a billion-dollar budget deficit. Gov. Hickenlooper, who was elected in November and previously was the mayor of Denver, spoke only briefly about K-12 education in his Jan. 13 speech to the legislature.
“The past four years have marked Colorado as a leader in education reform,” he said, “and we have important work to see through, both the goal of ensuring a student-centered education system ... and the creation of a fair and effective educator-evaluation system.” —Erik W. Robelen
Gov. Dan Malloy (D), Jan. 16 (Budget Address)
In a budget address that said the state is “staring down the barrel of a deficit of over $3.2 billion next year” and $3 billion the year after, the new governor told lawmakers that he was nevertheless planning additional spending on early-childhood education.
“It is dismaying to all of us that Connecticut has the largest achievement gap of any state in the nation,” Gov. Malloy said. One of the ways to close that gap, he said, is to give every child access to prekindergarten.
Gov. Malloy said his budget would provide a “down payment” on that promise by providing $5.7 million over two years. The state also plans to use $4.1 million from private philanthropic sources for early-childhood programs. The budget maintains the current level of state education aid, about $3.3 billion. —Christina A. Samuels
Gov. Jack Markell (D), Jan. 20
In his third State of the State address, Gov. Markell made it clear that education is a major priority, even as he warned that statewide cutbacks would have to continue in response to lean budget times.
Much of the address focused on highlighting the state’s educational accomplishments in 2010, including adoption of a new set of common standards, and winning $100 million in the federal Race to the Top competition. With that money, Delaware plans to offer incentives to lure good teachers into struggling schools, create time for teachers to collaborate in improving student achievement, and improve testing to better reflect student growth in all subject areas and produce more useful information for teachers.
Gov. Markell noted that the state set up a “partnership zone” to help four low-performing schools, adopted a requirement that all students complete a world language course, and took steps to bolster education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
As part of his plan to streamline state government, Gov. Markell said the state would have to “take a hard look” at the cost of its health insurance and pension plans for public employees, but he provided no details. —Catherine Gewertz
Gov. Rick Scott (R), Mar. 8
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Scott asked lawmakers to support his broad agenda to slash government spending and make changes to how teachers are evaluated and paid.
During his campaign, the freshman governor promised to cut taxes and create 700,000 jobs in Florida, which has struggled to emerge from the recession. In his speech, Mr. Scott voiced support for proposals to require teachers and other public employees to pay more for their pensions and to phase out tenure protections for educators. Both of those ideas appear to have strong support from the gop-controlled legislature.
“Educators, like other professionals, should be rewarded based on the effectiveness of their work, not the length of their professional life,” Mr. Scott said. “That’s why Florida needs to pay the best educators more and end the practice of guaranteeing educators a job for life regardless of their performance.”
Last month, Mr. Scott proposed a $66 billion budget for fiscal 2012 that would cut overall school funding by 10 percent, to $16.4 billion, in a spending plan that includes a $700 reduction in per-student aid, while cutting taxes on corporations and property owners. That spending plan, which includes expected losses in federal economic stimulus aid, has drawn strong objections from school officials and some lawmakers. —Sean Cavanagh
Gov. Nathan Deal (R), Jan. 12
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Deal said he is committed to saving the nationally known HOPE college scholarship program, which offers those who qualify full-tuition scholarships to in-state public colleges, universities, and trade schools. But with a proposed fiscal year 2012 budget that does not authorize program expenditures beyond what can be funded through a state lottery, Gov. Deal said preserving the program will require “programmatic changes during this legislative session.”
The governor, who succeeded term-limited Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, said $150 million in reserve funds were used to cover scholarship expenditures in fiscal year 2010. In fiscal 2011, now half completed, it could take more than twice that amount to maintain operation of the program. Gov. Deal also indicated his budget for fiscal 2012 would include a net increase of $30 million in the state K-12 formula funding for the Quality Basic Education Program, or a 0.4 percent bump, according to the newly released budget reports.
But that is the only bright spot in a broader $7 billion education budget that includes $25 million in proposed state funding cuts across other K-12 programs, and the loss of more than $750 million in federal economic recovery funding. The state’s own funding for K-12, separate from federal stimulus funds, is up just under $5 million from the previous fiscal year. “Let me be clear: my budget will end teacher furloughs and keep students in school for a full year,” said Gov. Deal. Statewide teacher furloughs have been a reality in Georgia since 2009, following the recession that began in late 2007.
The governor also said that a good chunk of his proposed $563 million bond package would be focused toward education, including $231 million for K-12 construction and $15 million for funding charter schools specializing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, education. —Ian Quillen
Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), Jan. 24
Education must be Hawaii’s top priority, Gov. Abercrombie told lawmakers in his address, who painted a grim picture of the state’s economy. Hawaii faces a $844 million deficit for the next biennium, he said. “The breakdown of our government is tearing our social fabric and undermining our economic recovery,” the governor said. “The truth is that the canoe, which is our beloved Hawaii, could capsize.”
Gov. Abercrombie said the state Department of Education was already “on the cusp of transformative change” thanks to the $75 million in federal funds Hawaii received through the Race to the Top competition. To move forward, he said, he now needs the authority to appoint the state Board of Education, and he urged the state’s Senate to move quickly in passing enabling legislation to do that. He also announced that a new position was being created in the governor’s office to oversee early education efforts and to establish a Department of Early Childhood. —Katie Ash
Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter (R), Jan. 10
Despite a shaky budget situation and Idaho’s also-ran status in the federal Race to the Top competition, Gov. Otter and Tom Luna, the state schools superintendent, are urging lawmakers to embrace a makeover of the K-12 system that would include major changes to teacher pay and tenure, and a new investment in technology.
The proposal, outlined in the governor’s State of the State address and discussed by him and Mr. Luna in a subsequent news conference, calls for a $50 million boost to help expand classroom technology over the next two years. Each 9th grader would get a laptop computer, and high school students would be required to take online courses in order to graduate.
The plan also seeks to hike the minimum pay for new teachers to $30,000, put in place a pay-for-performance plan, and phase out tenure by offering new teachers and administrators a two-year, rolling contract. School districts would no longer be able to use seniority as the sole factor in determining teacher layoffs. And districts would have to tie a portion of teacher and administrator evaluations to student academic progress. The proposal also aims to ensure that parents have access to “understandable” fiscal reports on local school districts and input on teacher evaluations. —Alyson Klein
Gov. Pat Quinn (D), Feb. 16 (Budget Address)
With Illinois facing a major budget shortfall, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed deep cuts in school transportation funding and suggested that districts could consolidate as a way to save the state money.
In his annual budget address to state lawmakers, Gov. Quinn said he wanted to create a commission that would make recommendations on consolidating some of the state’s 868 school districts. He predicts that merging school systems could save taxpayers $100 million by reducing administrative costs and other savings. “Our fiscal reality demands consolidation,” he told members of the legislature, which is controlled by Democrats.
Illinois, which has a total general fund budget of $26 billion, faces an estimated deficit of $13 billion. Mr. Quinn proposes closing some of that gap by having the state restructure its debt. He has called for raising K-12 general fund spending from about $7 billion in fiscal 2011 to $7.3 billion in fiscal 2012, though spending in certain areas, like school transportation, would be reduced. —Sean Cavanagh
Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), Jan. 11
Gov. Daniels dedicated the majority of his speech to the state Assembly to plans for an overhaul of Indiana’s education system, both to improve students’ readiness for global jobs and to shore up the local economy. “When we are courting a new business, right behind taxes, the cost of energy, reasonable regulation, and transportation facilities comes schools,” he said in the 33-minute speech. “Sometimes, in some places, it costs us jobs today.” Many of the changes seem primed to appeal to his fellow Republicans now in charge of the legislature. Gov. Daniels argued for basing teacher tenure and pay on student achievement and limiting the areas of school operations that can be restricted by union contracts.
For students who graduate from high school in three years, he proposed that the state provide the money it otherwise would have paid in per-pupil school aid to the students themselves to use for college or other education-related services. Indiana has interdistrict public school choice, and Mr. Daniels pushed for the legislature to require schools with waiting lists to use lotteries or other blind selection processes to fill their seats. He also called for expanding charter schools in the state and requiring districts to turn over unused school buildings to them. He would create a new program to allow parents to use state-funded vouchers for private schools as well. —Sarah D. Sparks
Gov. Terry Branstad (R), Jan. 14 (Inaugural Address)
The newly elected GOP governor called for an education summit in his inaugural, saying he would bring together top national and state leaders on K-12 to consider how Iowa schools compare to those in the rest of country and make recommendations for improvement.
The summit will consider how the Hawkeye State can boost teacher recruitment efforts, as well as help current teachers improve their practices. Gov. Branstad, who also served as Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, wants to examine how the state can remove teachers who aren’t effective even after receiving coaching to improve.
The new focus on teacher quality is likely to come against a backdrop of austerity. Gov. Branstad said state auditors believe Iowa must cut the government by 15 percent to permanently balance the books. “We will remove the lead boots of excess government from our economy,” Gov. Branstad said. “And without that burden, we will be able to run like the wind in the race to prosperity.” —Alyson Klein
Gov. Sam Brownback (R), Jan. 12
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Brownback, a newly elected Republican, promised he would deliver a state budget to the legislature that increases school funding, but said it was up to lawmakers to determine what a “suitable” education is under the Kansas constitution.
His comments referred to an ongoing federal lawsuit from parents who are challenging a state-mandated cap on how much local districts can raise outside of the state school-funding formula. “Let the legislature resolve school finance … not the courts, so we can send more money to the classroom, not the courtroom,” he said.
Gov. Brownback also proposed redirecting $6 million in state funds to develop new early education centers that will focus on building reading skills among children in the state’s lowest-performing districts. —Michele McNeil
Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Feb. 1
In his address, Gov. Beshear called on lawmakers to raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18. He has endorsed a bill recently introduced in the House that would make that change gradually by 2016. The bill also would create alternative programs for some high school students.
“Our youth need more education, not less,” Gov. Beshear said. “Their economic security depends on it.” A similar bill introduced during the previous legislative session cleared the House but did not advance in the Senate.
Gov. Beshear also said the state was in the process of “aligning” its early-childhood and childhood-development programs to ensure students are ready for kindergarten. —Stephen Sawchuk
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R)
The governor is not planning to deliver a State of the State address.
Gov. Paul LePage (R), Feb. 10 (Budget Address)
In contrast to other GOP governors who have sought cuts to education, Gov. LePage in his budget address proposed a $6.1 billion, biennial 2012-13 budget for Maine that would return state support for schools to prerecession spending levels by fiscal 2013, but would cut pension benefits to retired teachers and other public workers.
The governor would increase state aid to local school districts in the next two years by $63 million, to $914 million, matching fiscal 2007 levels. “And it will not be enough,” said Mr. LePage, who was elected in November. “Education funding is never enough because too many resources are diverted before they reach the classroom. We are working on reforms that make the student the most important person in the classroom.”
The budget would pay for the education spending in part by freezing state pensions for three years, raising the retirement age for new workers to 65 from 62, and increasing their retirement contributions by 2 percentage points of salary. —Sarah D. Sparks
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Feb. 3
Maryland must hone its innovative edge to thrive in a competitive global economy, and the “foundation of innovation is education,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in his State of the State address.
Although the state faces overall budget cutbacks because of a $1.4 billion shortfall, it must preserve its commitment to education because of its value as a long-term investment, Gov. O’Malley said. He proposed holding education spending at the same level as in the current fiscal year. In fiscal 2011, the budget for precollegiate education is $5.7 billion.
The governor warned that state and employee contributions to the pension system will have to be “moderately” increased, and benefits “moderately” reduced, in order to protect the health of that system and the state’s finances. —Catherine Gewertz
Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D)
The governor is not planning to deliver a State of the State address.
Gov. Rick Snyder (R), Jan. 19
Like many states, Michigan is facing a funding shortfall for fiscal 2012; analysts estimate it at $1.8 billion, which would represent a drop of close to 9 percent from the previous fiscal year. But the newly-elected governor’s first address to the state legislature was still long on optimism, even if it was short on specifics related to education.
Gov. Snyder said he would like to revamp the state’s education programs into a comprehensive system encompassing everything from prenatal health to lifelong learning. “It is time to start talking about P-20 instead of just K through 12,” he said, referring to preschool through college.
The governor said he will also submit a “special message” to lawmakers in April that will go into more detail on changes he would like to see in the state education system. The state budget will be presented in mid-February. —Christina A. Samuels
Gov. Mark Dayton (D), Feb. 9
Despite budget constraints in his state, Gov. Dayton in his first State of the State address asked the legislature to increase funding for K-12 education. He said his goal is to increase such funding every year that he’s governor, “with no excuses and no exceptions.” The governor proposed that K-12 funding be $14.4 billion out of a budget of $37.1 billion for the 2012-13 biennium, up from $14.3 in K-12 funding for the current biennium.
Gov. Dayton proposed raising education funding particularly to increase the number of children who receive all-day kindergarten, noting that states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi pay for such services. He also re-established the governor’s council on early-childhood education and the children’s cabinet, which are headed by the state’s education commissioner. —Mary Ann Zehr
Gov. Haley Barbour (R), Jan. 11
In his final State of the State speech, delivered Jan. 11, Gov. Barbour pledged to widen access to quality education by broadening the state’s charter school law and urging schools to make dual enrollment in high school and college courses easier. In particular, Gov. Barbour, who is term-limited, said changes in dual enrollment would allow students to learn more and would allow their parents to save money on college credits earned.
The governor—who leaves office after the state’s gubernatorial election later this year—said that if the legislature adopted his budget recommendation for fiscal 2012, the state would have about $200 million left in reserves for fiscal 2013, and school districts would have more than $450 million in their reserve funds.
Mississippi schools, overall, have reported a decline in dropout rates, and the state’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are higher than the national average, Gov. Barbour said. “We must continue to focus on improving the quality of teachers coming out of our colleges of education, while simultaneously using technology more in teaching our kids,” he said. —Michelle D. Anderson
Gov. Jeremiah W. “Jay” Nixon (D), Jan. 19
The governor is proposing sending $112 million extra to schools in the current year through federal economic-stimulus funds, but he wants districts to hold on to that money for a year. A $112 million cut is proposed in the fiscal 2012 budget to education, and the money provided now is supposed to help schools weather that future reduction.
Critics have said the governor’s plan is a shell game, and that cash-strapped districts can’t be expected to hold off on spending money this year. But the governor has said that’s the only way to maintain flat funding for schools.
In one of the few growth areas in his proposed budget, Gov. Nixon said he wants to expand a scholarship program that covers two years of tuition and fees at state community colleges or technical schools for qualified students. “Every good student in Missouri deserves the opportunity to go to college, whether they live in the urban core in St. Louis or Kansas City, or down a country road in the Bootheel,” the state’s largely rural southeast corner, Gov. Nixon said in his address.
The governor’s proposal would expand the scholarships, at a cost of about $1 million, to students whose families have a yearly income of $55,000. The expansion is expected to serve 700 additional students this fiscal year. The overall scholarship program cost about $25 million in the 2009-10 school year. —Christina A. Samuels
Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), Jan. 26
Gov. Schweitzer called on lawmakers to fund his proposed increases for public education, giving particular notice to funding public pre-K and to capping college tuition costs.
“Please bring me bills that unite Montana,” he said. “Bills that help businesses and create jobs, and bills that prepare our students for a better tomorrow. I’ll sign them.”
That could be a tough challenge in the Republican-dominated legislature, however, which has advanced bills with lower figures than his budget request. In that request, Gov. Schweitzer proposed to raise spending on the University of Montana system by $52 million by 2013, and to increase state per-pupil allocations in K-12 by $161 over the next two years.
“If the 62nd legislative assembly chooses to decrease our support for public education, you do so as a reflection of your values, not for a lack of available revenue,” he said. “We have the money in the bank.” —Stephen Sawchuk
Gov. Dave Heineman (R), Jan. 13
Gov. Heineman pledged to support the development of a “virtual high school” in his annual speech before lawmakers, in which he also promised to close the state’s projected budget shortfall while opposing tax increases.
The governor, who won re-election in November, told legislators that he wants to commit $8.5 million in state lottery funds to support the creation of a virtual high school, which he said would increase the diversity and availability of courses in Nebraska schools, particularly in rural areas. Such a program also would allow students to complete their work in the evenings and on weekends—effectively expanding the school day and school year, the governor added. The state proposed a similar idea in its application for grant money in the federal Race to the Top application, though it was not selected as a winner.
Nebraska faces a projected budget shortfall of $1 billion over fiscal years 2012 and 2013 combined. Gov. Heineman’s budget proposal would preserve funding for K-12 education at $810 million in 2012 and increase the amount to $860 million in 2013, while cutting state funding in several other areas. —Sean Cavanagh
Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), Jan. 24
Gov. Sandoval’s education plan revealed during his State of the State speech proposes rolling back K-12 spending to 2007 levels, giving unproven educators the boot, and eliminating statutory mandates requiring smaller class sizes and other programs.
Gov. Sandoval named education among his many priorities in working to heal Nevada. The state has the highest unemployment, bankruptcy, and foreclosure rates in the nation. He wants to reduce K-12 funding by $270 per pupil and raid school reserves by $425 million to defray the costs of overall education spending. He has asked lawmakers to eliminate statutory requirements for class-size reduction, early-childhood education, kindergarten for children deemed at risk, and other programs, which cost a total of about $325 million. That money, he said, would instead be distributed in a block grant program to be used at the discretion of school districts. Overall, he is seeking a nearly 6 percent reduction in K-12 per-student spending and a drop of nearly 18 percent in higher education spending.
The governor blamed ineffective educators for the state’s low graduation rates, lingering achievement gap, and unsatisfactory test scores, and he chided those who blame such failures on inadequate funding. “It is unacceptable that children in classrooms literally across the hall from one another achieve at dramatically different levels because of the quality of their teacher,” he said. He would like to end teacher tenure and social promotion of students, enhance private-school-voucher programs, and reward the best teachers and principals. The governor’s staff said the administration has yet to detail the proposed teacher-evaluation system.
The outlook is worse for the state’s community colleges and universities. Under Gov. Sandoval’s proposal, their funding would drop by 17.6 percent. In a bright spot, Mr. Sandoval wants to direct $10 million toward Nevada’s Millennium Scholarship Program. —Associated Press
Gov. John Lynch (D), Feb. 15 (Budget Address)
While government agencies other than education will face cuts, four-term incumbent Gov. Lynch offered a spending plan that keeps school funding for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 at the same level as in 2011, about $941 million, although the state won’t have federal economic-stimulus money to help.
The proposal also offers $1 million in competitive grants for district projects that increase efficiency and expand opportunities for students. Gov. Lynch said in his biennial budget address that his spending proposal “protects our state’s strategy for success, keeping taxes low and making smart investments in education, health care, public safety, and economic development.” —Nirvi Shah
Gov. Chris Christie (R), Jan. 11
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Christie called for revamping teacher evaluation and tenure and working to help charter schools and school choice flourish. The governor ranked education reform in the top three most important issues facing the Garden State. His approach to that work, however, has antagonized the state teachers’ union during his first year in office.
Gov. Christie called it a “top priority” to persuade the Democratic-controlled legislature to expand the number of charter schools beyond the 73 now in operation. He urged lawmakers to allow more organizations to serve as authorizers for such schools, and to approve a bill that would give tax credits to corporations that award private school scholarships to students in low-performing schools. The governor reiterated his calls to base teachers’ pay on their students’ performance, eliminate tenure, and make it easier for schools to remove poorly performing teachers.
Faced with having to make deep budget cuts in fiscal 2012, Mr. Christie said nothing about protecting K-12 funding. Instead, he declared that he intends to “end the myth that more money equals better achievement.” —Catherine Gewertz
Gov. Susana Martinez (R), Jan. 18
Gov. Martinez, in her first State of the State address, said that while she will trim “education bureaucracy” in the state, she won’t reduce classroom spending. The governor, elected to her first term in November, painted a bleak picture of the financial health of the state, which faces a $450 million shortfall in its fiscal 2011 budget of $5.6 billion, but she is seeking only a 1.5 percent cut from the administration of education in her proposed budget for fiscal 2012. Besides cutting school administration, the governor intends to cut the budget for the state’s education department by 20 percent, according to a spokesman for the governor. Ms. Martinez said in her speech that she would preserve funds that reach classrooms.
“The truth is there is waste, and it must be eliminated,” Gov. Martinez said, citing the costs of lobbyists in school districts and lawyers in the state’s education agency as examples of waste. She contended that only 61 cents of every dollar for education in the state is spent in the classroom. “Nothing will receive more attention from my administration than guaranteeing our children a quality education,” she said.
She promised to end social promotion, which she defined as moving children from one grade to the next regardless of whether they have shown proficiency in basic skills. She said that the state will intervene more quickly in schools that are failing than has been previously the case. She promised, as well, to establish a system that evaluates teachers and rewards those who are most effective, saying improving the quality of teachers is key to improving the quality of education in the state. —Mary Ann Zehr
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Jan. 5
In his first address to state lawmakers, Gov. Cuomo challenged them to help him reduce spending and taxes and proposed new competitions for school districts to reward those that improve academic performance and take innovative cost-cutting steps. He called for a “fundamental realignment” of state government to reduce state and local spending and taxes, which he said place too great a burden on residents and stifle economic growth. That realignment needs to include the state’s education system, which he argued is producing mediocre results for the amount of money spent on it.
Rather than simply awarding money to districts through formula grants, he proposed the creation of a $250 million competitive-grant fund for districts that raise academic performance, and another $250 million competition for districts that find administrative savings through efforts such as sharing services. He likened his proposal to the federal Race to the Top competition, which provided $4 billion in competitive grants aimed at rewarding states for school innovation. New York won $700 million through that program.
“The federal government is actually more innovative in this area,” said Gov. Cuomo, who added: “Competition works; ... When you just give people cash with no results, you take the incentives out of the system.” New York’s total general fund budget stands at about $54 billion, and its K-12 general fund is $19.8 billion, according to the New York state division of the budget. (That money does not include an additional $2 billion in school funding that was approved the previous year but carried over to 2010-11, the budget division said.) The day of his speech, the governor also announced that he had signed an executive order creating a “mandate relief team,” which will seek ways to reduce unfunded mandates imposed by the state on local entities, including school districts. —Sean Cavanagh
Gov. Beverly Perdue (D), Feb. 14
While her budget proposal pledges to eliminate a total of 10,000 state positions between layoffs and targeted agency cuts, Gov. Perdue said none of those would be state-backed teaching positions.
“The budget I submit to you will fund every current state-supported teacher and teaching assistant position,” Gov. Perdue said. “We will demand that all teachers and administrators meet our standards of excellence or we will replace them. Now is not the time to let our children fall behind.”
The proposed budget, released three days after her State of the State speech, includes a proposed $7.6 billion in general funding for K-12 education in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, a small increase from the $7.4 billion approved in fiscal 2010-11.
The governor also proposed creating a state Career and College Promise program with existing education money that would pay for a two-year college degree or two years of career training for students who met academic criteria. —Ian Quillen
Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R), Jan. 4
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Dalrymple pushed state legislators to “finish the job of funding adequacy” that began with the passage of a K-12 and higher-education funding bill in 2009. That bill included a stipulation that no less than 70 percent of all state education funding must be directed toward teacher compensation, and was championed as a measure to free taxpayers from local tax burdens.
The funding adequacy legislation was passed under previous Gov. John Hoeven, also a Republican, who resigned in December after winning one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats in the November elections. Including funds from the funding bill, state funding of K-12 education increased by about $110 million, or 14 percent, to $887 million for the currently ongoing 2009-2011 biennial state fiscal cycle.
Mr. Dalrymple, who assumed the governorship after serving as lieutenant governor under Mr. Hoeven, didn’t outline any specific education polices or funding alterations in his speech, but said that after achieving adequacy, the state must turn to improving instruction in schools, and stressed the importance of teacher professional development in achieving that goal. He also pushed the importance of parental involvement. —Ian Quillen
Gov. John Kasich (R), March 8
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Kasich promised to promote school choice and to back the growth in Ohio of Teach for America, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to bring talented undergraduates into teaching. But he barely touched on a controversial measure he supports that would curb collective bargaining rights for teachers and other public workers.
Mr. Kasich, a former congressman elected governor last November, was heckled by at least one visitor to the House chamber when he referred to the gop-supported legislation on collective bargaining. The proposal would limit teachers’ ability to bargain on issues other than wages and certain work conditions, while also mandating performance pay for educators, among other steps. The measure, similar in some respects to a proposal being pushed by Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, has drawn major protests from teachers and other public employees.
“I grew up in the ‘70s. I learned what protests were in the `70s,” Mr. Kasich said, after hearing boos from the chamber. But he asked that protestors respect the views of those who disagree with them.
Mr. Kasich, like Gov. Walker, argues that the proposal will save money for state and local school districts. The governor, whose state faces an $8 billion, two-year projected budget shortfall, also said he will support efforts to encourage school districts and local governments to share services. —Sean Cavanagh
Gov. Mary Fallin (R), Feb. 7
In her inaugural State of the State address, Gov. Fallin, the first woman to become governor of Oklahoma, recognized the need for improvement in the state’s education system and outlined several steps to that end.
To inspire innovation in the K-12 sector, Gov. Fallin is working with state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi to scrape together money for a new public-private partnership that will match state dollars to investments from private companies to pay for learning initiatives that could increase student achievement. The governor has also asked the legislature to eliminate a process she said made it difficult to fire underperforming educators.
Social promotion, or allowing students to proceed to the next grade level because of their age instead of their academic performance, should be eliminated, said Gov. Fallin. She also proposed looking into potential cost-saving changes, such as a transition to digital textbooks, and she expressed a need for a better data-tracking system to determine which education initiatives do and do not work. —Katie Ash
Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), Jan. 10 (Inaugural Remarks)
In his inaugural speech, Gov. Kitzhaber outlined the importance of spending more money on education to improve the economic future for Oregonians, despite a $3.5 billion projected budget deficit for the next biennium.
Gov. Kitzhaber declared that by 2020, children in Oregon should be prepared to learn before they enter kindergarten, expect to receive the resources they need to learn from teachers who have the time and support required to teach effectively, and graduate on the road to entering college without a need for remedial study. Graduation rates should increase, and at least 80 percent of all graduating students should complete at least two years of postsecondary education or training, he said.
“If together we commit ourselves to building that future,” he said, “we can, over time, reverse our current trend of disinvestment in education.” —Katie Ash
Gov. Tom Corbett (R), Mar. 8 (Budget Address)
Facing a $4 billion budget deficit for fiscal 2012, Pennsylvania has reached a “day of reckoning,” and education will bear a large portion of the pain, Gov. Corbett told a joint session of the legislature in his first budget address.
Chosen last November in an election that also put Republicans in control of both chambers of the state legislature, the Republican governor sought to fulfill his campaign promise to cut spending without raising taxes.
He called for a one-year pay freeze for public school employees, a move projected to save $400 million. He proposed that public employees contribute more than the current 3 percent of their salaries to health care benefits. He suggested that any property-tax increase exceeding inflation be put to a popular vote, and proposed that school boards be freed to curb spending by taking such actions as furloughing employees.
The governor’s proposed budget is $27.3 billion, down from $28 billion in the current fiscal year. It includes $8.6 billion for precollegiate education, compared with $9.9 billion currently. The biggest chunk of pre-K-12 funding, the basic education subsidy, would be cut from $5.7 billion to $5.2 billion. —Catherine Gewertz
Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I)
The governor has not yet announced the date of his address.
Gov. Nikki R. Haley (R), Jan. 19
In her speech, Gov. Haley announced plans to overhaul the state’s funding formula for school districts and privatize school busing contracts.
Earlier the same day, the state Senate’s Study Committee agreed to introduce a bill to change the taxpaying-ability index in the Education Finance Act, which sets the per-pupil amount on which state education support to districts is based. The bill would, for the first time, give weight to students in poverty or with limited English proficiency; those attending statewide online and charter schools; and students ages 17 to 21 who seek a diploma or a General Education Development, or GED, certificate. The bill would also would increase the support provided to gifted students and set a statewide base for teacher salaries.
Gov. Haley did not mention the proposal in her speech, but her support is likely to be critical to the ultimate success of any funding plan in the midst of a tight state budget.
Also in her address, the newly inaugurated governor said she would start looking for education savings by privatizing the states busing contract, a move she also said would “deliver our children a new fleet of buses” and “keep our school bus drivers employed while transferring our mechanics to the private sector.” —Sarah D. Sparks
Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), Jan. 11 & Jan. 19
In his first state budget address, newly inaugurated Gov. Daugaard announced a proposed budget that would cut funding to all state-level agencies not affected by legal mandates by at least 10 percent, including a $41 million cut to K-12 education. The plan is aimed at eliminating a structural state deficit of $127 million in fiscal 2012, which would bring the general state budget down to $1.1 billion.
Total K-12 general funding would drop to $359 million, according to figures available online. That would reduce the state’s per-pupil contribution by about $480, to $4,324.
Gov. Daugaard stressed that, if other revenues that contribute to education funding are factored in—such as property taxes, federal special education funding, and proceeds from sources like weigh-station taxes—district education budgets decreases would be held to an average of 5.4 percent. He noted that any local tax increases were independent of state funding decisions.
“If school boards can convince property-holders to opt out” of their current tax levels for a higher tax rate, Gov. Daugaard said, “that’s a local decision.”
In his State of the State address eight days earlier, the governor said he would propose bills aiming to repeal the 100-student minimum-enrollment figure needed for a district to receive state financial aid, and to remove a cap on the funds districts were allowed to hold in reserve.
He also praised the states above-average high school graduation and postsecondary-attendance rates and pushed for improved education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. —Ian Quillen
Gov. Bill Haslam (R), March 14
Gov. Haslam’s first State of the State address presented a $30.2 billion budget for fiscal 2012 that would boost K-12 education spending by $63.4 million while trimming $20.2 million, or about 2 percent, from postsecondary education.
The governor plans to cut the jobs of 1,180 state employees, about 90 percent from attrition and those hired through the federal economic-stimulus law, as aid from that source comes to an end. The remaining workers, including teachers, would see a 1.6 percent raise, their first in four years.
But Mr. Haslam also voiced support for a bill to delay tenure decisions until five years after a teacher is hired, up from three years, in order to include peer observations and data on student growth from the state’s value-added model. He also called for state education officials to streamline paperwork for teachers, asked lawmakers to lift the state’s 90-operator cap on charter schools, and pledged to support paying for maintenance that had been delayed in schools and other state buildings. —Sarah D. Sparks
Gov. Rick Perry (R), Feb. 8
In his State of the State address, Gov. Perry stressed the need for cuts in K-12 school budgets rather than increased spending, arguing that voters had sent a message in the November elections that “they want government to be even leaner and more efficient.”
The governor recommended that the state spend $14.2 billion on K-12 education in fiscal 2012, out of a budget of $22 billion, a decrease of 10 percent from the current fiscal year. Texas approves a budget every two years. The governor proposed an even smaller K-12 budget for fiscal 2013 of $13.9 billion, out of a state budget of $21.9 billion.
Mr. Perry said he is looking for the legislature to approve bills that reduce the dropout rate and suggested the state’s Virtual School Network be expanded with the addition of an online high school, which could help students who have dropped out of school to recover credits. To save money, he urged school districts to enter into shared service arrangements with other institutions in their region. —Mary Ann Zehr
Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R), Jan. 26
Gov. Herbert vowed in his address to make education “our number-one budget priority” and touted elements of a “long-term action plan” devised by a state Education Excellence Commission he set up a year ago. The plan includes ensuring that students are proficient in reading by the 3rd grade and calls for “matching classroom instruction to real-world jobs—especially in the areas of science, engineering, and math.”
As part of the $11.9 billion state budget he proposed in December, the governor included $50 million in additional state aid for public education to cope with projected enrollment growth, as well as $7.5 million to continue the state’s voluntary all-day kindergarten program. “Investing in our children today benefits all of us tomorrow,” he said.
The governor, who took over in 2009 when then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. stepped down to become the U.S. ambassador to China, identified education as a “cornerstone” to ensure Utah’s future prosperity. “The pathway to success in postsecondary education, which leads to economic prosperity as an adult, begins in elementary school as a child,” he said. —Erik W. Robelen
Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), Jan. 25 (Budget Address)
Even as the state must find $176 million to cut from its $4.8 billion spending plan, Gov.Shumlin called for Vermont to become a national leader in early education by expanding prekindergarten programs.
The governor proposed eliminating the cap on how many children ages 3 to 5 can enroll in pre-K classes, saying prekindergarten may have the potential to produce long-term savings on prisons, special education, and other services. Over time, he said, if even half of Vermont’s eligible children enroll, it would cost the state about $14 million. However, the expansion would have little effect on the 2012 budget: Local government agencies would have to approve raising property taxes to pay for their share of the expansion.
Gov. Shumlin also proposed a higher-education income tax credit. He said he hoped such a program would encourage Vermont high school students to go to college and work in the state after graduation, which is a necessity as the state’s population ages. —Nirvi Shah
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), Jan. 12
Precollegiate education was notable for its absence in Gov. McDonnell’s 40-minute State of the Commonwealth speech, which concentrated instead on areas he labeled his top priorities for 2012: higher education, jobs creation, transportation, and reform of state government.
Gov. McDonnell said it was “unconscionable” that state university tuition has doubled in the past decade, and proposed $50 million in new money for higher education in 2012 to improve degree attainment, financial aid, and graduation rates. He also urged colleges to focus on science, technology, mathematics, and engineering education to help the state build a stronger workforce.
As part of his push to reform state government, Gov. McDonnell has proposed requiring state employees to contribute 5 percent of their salaries toward their pensions. Virginia is one of the few states to carry the entire cost of such pensions. But the governor said this is no longer possible, since the state retirement system is underfunded by $17.6 billion. —Catherine Gewertz
Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), Jan. 11
In her annual speech to legislators on Jan. 11, Gov. Gregoire encouraged them to reduce the amount of money spent on pensions and health care and to consolidate state agencies from 21 to nine in order to weather the current economic downturn. “Every dollar we spend on health care and pensions means we have one fewer dollar to educate our children,” she said.
As part of the effort to streamline state agencies, Gov. Gregoire has proposed merging the state’s eight education agencies into one department of education that would oversee education from prekindergarten through the Ph.D. level. She placed emphasis on making 12th grade relevant and exciting for high schoolers and ensuring that students leave high school on a path to certifications, apprenticeships, or higher education.
Gov. Gregoire also voiced support for the recommendations of the Higher Education Funding Task Force, which aim to increase the number of college graduates, ensure greater accountability for higher education institutions, establish stable funding, and create a $1 billion Washington Pledge Scholarship Program. —Katie Ash
Gov. Earl Tomblin (D), Jan. 12
The first-term governor, a Republican, proposed in his address giving all teachers a one-time, $800 across-the-board bonus. In doing so, he acknowledged that the state cannot afford any additional raises for teachers given the slow-going economic recovery. “This recognizes the hard work that our teachers put into our system while at the same time does not add to our base budget,” he said.
In addition, Gov. Tomblin said his education priorities during the upcoming legislative session are reducing the dropout rate, eliminating teacher shortages that persist in some areas of the state, and improving vocational skills from middle school students on up. —Michele McNeil
Gov. Scott Walker (R), Feb. 1
Although he did not specifically refer to public education, Gov. Walker’s address to legislators contained at least one element that surely perked up the ears of some educators: his call for public employees—presumably including public school teachers—to make a large contribution toward their pensions.
“Currently, state employees pay next to nothing from their salaries toward their pension,” he said. The governor is proposing that public employees contribute about 5 percent of their annual salaries into the pension system and pay 12 percent of their health insurance premiums. The freshman governor, who was elected last fall, focused his address largely on the state’s financial straits. Wisconsin faces a projected budget shortfall of $3 billion for the two-year budget cycle that begins next July, the governor noted in his speech, and it faces a $200 million deficit in the current fiscal year.
“First, let me be clear: We have an economic and fiscal crisis in this state that demands our immediate attention,” the governor said. “The solutions we offer must be designed to address both job creation and our budget problems.” —Erik W. Robelen
Gov. Matt Mead (R), Jan. 12
Saying that state spending on education amounted to “a Cadillac plan without Cadillac results,” Gov. Mead called for changes to teacher evaluation and voiced support for charter schools, but offered no specific legislative proposals. The newly elected, first-term governor said most teachers and administrators are doing an excellent job, but he encouraged districts to come up with standards for judging whether teachers are doing a good job teaching.
He called for a testing system to help measure both students’ and teachers’ successes and problem areas. He said that “a simple statutory change to alter teacher contracts without more is not a cure-all.” Gov. Mead also voiced support for charter schools, but said they cannot “cherry-pick the best students.” —Stephen Sawchuk