States

State of the States (2008)

January 14, 2008 22 min read

Alabama

Gov. Bob Riley (R), Feb. 6

Gov. Riley urged lawmakers to expand the state’s prekindergarten program and protect some of his K-12 initiatives from budget cuts. The second-term Republican said he would propose a $20 million increase for First Class, the state’s voluntary pre-K program, which now enrolls 4 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds. That would be enough to triple participation in the statewide program, up from its current level of 2,400. With the state in the midst of a budget crunch, Gov. Riley wants lawmakers to maintain funding for his initiatives aimed at increasing primary students’ reading ability, boosting secondary students’ mathematics skills and scientific knowledge, and expanding online learning.

Alaska

Gov. Sarah Palin (R), Jan. 15

Gov. Palin asked lawmakers to support her proposal for an overhaul of school funding, which she says will bring greater stability and equity to districts across Alaska. She recently unveiled a plan to fund schools on a three-year budget cycle, which she believes would make it easier for them to plan spending. Her proposal also would change the “district cost” formula to provide greater resources to K-12 systems with particularly high expenses. In addition, the plan would increase the base student allocation of $5,380 per pupil by $200 annually for three years, and greatly expand funding for special-needs students.

Arizona

Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), Jan. 14

The Arizona class of 2012—today’s 8th graders—should be guaranteed free tuition to state colleges and universities if they maintain a B average, said Gov. Napolitano in her annual address to the legislature. That class, which she dubbed “Centennial Scholars,” would be graduating 100 years after Arizona became a state. Her proposal calls for a program that would be expanded to every subsequent graduating class, which she said would be a sign of the state’s commitment to education. She also repeated her earlier proposals that the attendance age be raised to 18 from 16, and she proposed examining Arizona’s statewide tests to make sure they are properly aligned with graduation standards.

California

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Jan. 8

Although this was supposed to be the “year of education” in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger presented a much less ambitious agenda for public schools during his 2008 State of the State address last week than he had been vowing to pursue last year. With the state facing a $14 billion budget deficit in fiscal 2009, the second-term Republican instead introduced a new slogan, calling 2008 “not the year to talk about money.”

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Colorado

Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. (D), Jan. 10

Colorado should expand its preschool programs and create a “counselor corps” to work in targeted middle and high schools, Gov. Ritter said in his State of the State address. The proposals are part of the work of a P-20 Education Council created last year to work toward a seamless preschool-through-college education system. The governor said he would like to see the dropout rate and achievement gap cut in half over the next 10 years. The state should also provide funding to offer full-day kindergarten to 22,000 more children than are served now, he said.

Connecticut

Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R), Feb. 6

Addressing state lawmakers on the first day of their 2008 legislative session, Gov. Rell unveiled a mid-biennium revised budget that represents an increase of $114.4 million, or 4.4 percent, over last year’s K-12 allocation, according to Connecticut Department of Education spokesman Thomas Murphy. He said education officials are still calculating the exact increase for state education aid. The governor did not directly address K-12 education in her State of the State address, which focused on the need for fiscal prudence, despite a projected budget surplus, which she did not detail. But she reiterated her advocacy of a property-tax cap, which Mr. Murphy said could put some financial pressure on local school funding if the Democratic-controlled legislature passes the proposal. Her overall tax and spending plan for the 2008-09 biennium totals $18.5 billion.

Delaware

Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D), Jan. 17

Gov. Minner announced that she wants to expand two of the major initiatives of the first seven years of the governorship. In her forthcoming budget, she will propose expanding her full-day-kindergarten initiative to 11 districts and nine charter schools. In higher education, she said her budget will include new scholarships to help graduates from a community-college-scholarship program complete their bachelor’s degrees. She also said she would implement school cost savings that were recommended by a panel of state officials. The savings would be redirected to early-childhood efforts and classroom-based initiatives.

Georgia

Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Jan. 16

Gov. Perdue previewed a recommendation during his State of the State address that would give schools more freedom as long as they raised achievement. While he gave few details, he said he wants to offer “new options in exchange for performance.” To complement his “graduation coach” program, the governor is also recommending a new, $14.25 million “VIP recruiter” program, employing parents to work with other parents in schools with high truancy rates. The governor is also launching an online “education scoreboard” to help the public monitor student achievement. And he wants to spend $65 million to upgrade school transportation systems and technology.

Hawaii

Gov. Linda Lingle (R), Jan. 22

Continuing efforts she believes will give Hawaii students the opportunity to learn cutting-edge skills, Gov. Lingle announced during her annual address to lawmakers that she wants to establish “creative academies” in the state’s schools. Modeled after the STEM academies (for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) launched last year, the creative academies would allow students to focus on animation, digital media, game development, and writing and publishing. The governor also is proposing a tax deduction of up to $20,000 a year for parents or other family members who are saving for a child’s college education. And she wants to create a Commission on Higher Education, made up of the presidents of the state’s major universities as well as business and community leaders.

Idaho

Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter (R), Jan. 7

Gov. Otter wants to make K-12 education more cost-effective. In his State of the State address, he said he has asked a group of business and education leaders to assess how much Idaho spends on education and where, and compare that with the spending of high-performing school systems in the United States and abroad. He said his goal is to give students stronger skills to compete in a global economy. He also proposed a $50 million trust fund to help send low-income students to college.

Illinois

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich (D), Feb. 20

Gov. Blagojevich asked for lawmakers’ support in making brick-and-mortar improvements to schools, proposing a $25 billion capital-spending bill for fiscal 2009, which includes $3.8 billion for school construction in a state that has a total budget of about $58 billion. The capitalspending money would be generated by leasing 20 percent of the Illinois state lottery, while retaining 80 percent ownership, a spokeswoman for the governor said. The governor, who has had rocky relations with legislative leaders recently, also said he would support a $300- per-child tax credit for families and tax cuts for businesses. He will ask for a 3 percent cut across the board in state spending—but excluded education, health care, and public safety from the cuts.

Indiana

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), Jan. 15

As part of a massive tax-overhaul package designed to lower property-tax bills for homeowners, Gov. Daniels proposed that Indiana’s public schools no longer be financed through property taxes. Currently, about 15 percent of K-12 operating expenses in the state are paid through property taxes. The proposal would shift the entire cost of running schools to the state.

Iowa

Gov. Chet Culver (D), Jan. 15

Gov. Culver proposed in his annual speech to lawmakers a $5 million Science, Technology, and Engineering and Math Center at the University of Northern Iowa, arguing that the investment would help double the number of math and science teachers in the state’s public schools. He also called for expanding the All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship program, which gives needy students who graduate from high school with at least a 2.5 GPA up to $6,200 to attend college in the state. And he advocated expanding early-childhood education, with the goal of offering a statewide program by 2010.

Kansas

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), Jan. 14

Gov. Sebelius proposed a new early-childhood block grant, which would focus on early education for “at-risk children and underserved areas.” She also reaffirmed her support as the state enters its third year of a three-year, $466 million K-12 education spending plan, and proposed a fourth year, which would include all-day kindergarten. The governor emphasized the importance of math, science, and technology education and proposed $1 million for teaching scholarships in those areas. She also said she would take steps to make higher education more affordable by proposing an additional $3 million for scholarships in the state budget.

Kentucky

Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Jan. 14

Gov. Beshear, who took office this month, warned lawmakers in his State of the Commonwealth that Kentucky will have to trim its budget to overcome a projected shortfall. He said the situation will make it harder to fund priorities, including increasing the state’s investment in college aid and job training, and in better preparing students for higher education. Gov. Beshear has proposed a 3 percent across-the-board cut for most programs, according to a spokeswoman. But some programs are expected to be exempt, including Support Education Excellence in Kentucky, or SEEK, which allocates grants to districts for some K-12 education expenses, including transportation and special education.

Maine

Gov. John E. Baldacci (D), Jan. 9

After a year in which a push by Gov. Baldacci to reorganize the education bureaucracy dominated public debate, he used much of his State of the State address to highlight issues such as prison reform and the economy. He did, however, pledge to forge ahead with plans to make early-childhood education a priority. He also announced a privately funded college-grant program that, by 2009, will provide $500 to start a college savings account for every child born in Maine.

Maryland

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Jan. 23

Gov. O’Malley called for recruiting “great principals” for the state’s most challenged schools to help improve student performance in science, technology, engineering, and math. He also urged the legislature to focus on reducing the dropout rate by making better career and technical programs available to high schools in every district. In his budget plan, released earlier this month, the governor proposed $333 million for school construction and $5.3 billion for K-12 public education statewide—an increase of $184 million, or 3.6 percent over last year. Nearly $79 million would go to districts where education costs are particularly high.

Massachusetts

Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D), Jan. 23

Gov. Patrick’s first State of the Commonwealth speech included a call for lawmakers to move swiftly on a proposed increase in education spending. The governor, elected in November 2006, is seeking $5.2 billion for precollegiate education in his $28.2 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2009. That would include an increase of $223 million, a 6 percent hike from the current year, in state education aid to cities and towns. His proposal includes an additional $15 million to expand the state’s universal prekindergarten initiative and $8 million to increase the number of schools that offer full-day kindergarten. The governor also wants $13 million to raise the number of schools offering extended learning days. Currently, 19 public schools are participating in the extended school day program.

Michigan

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D), Jan. 29

In her sixth State of the State address, delivered on Jan. 29, Ms. Granholm called for as many as 100 new small high schools to help stem the dropout rate, starting as early as 2009.

Minnesota

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Feb. 13

Gov. Pawlenty used his annual speech to focus on teaching and technology in the schools. He urged lawmakers to expand the number of teachers in Minnesota by making it easier for midcareer professionals to become teachers and by encouraging young people to enter the profession. To help improve training for math and science teachers, he is recommending a summer institute for 1,000 teachers over the next two years. Gov. Pawlenty also expressed interest in revising state teacher evaluations, now done only during the first three years of a teacher’s career. A system of post-tenure review should be established, he said. And he emphasized the importance of technology in the classroom. Science and technology has been a theme for governors in a number of states this year. (“Ohio Initiative Adds to STEM Momentum,” Feb. 6, 2008.)

Mississippi

Gov. Haley Barbour (R), Jan. 21

Education remains Mississippi’s top priority, but programs won’t see increases this year as steep as in years past, Gov. Barbour told lawmakers. Spending for K-12 schools has increased an average of more than $130 million a year for the past four years, he said, but the state doesn’t have the resources to provide that much of a boost this year. Still, he said he plans to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which calls for at least a $2.5 million increase in spending, bringing it to $2.2 billion, a less than 1 percent increase. And he plans to make room for a program, authorized last year, allowing veteran teachers to receive an extra $1,000 annually in exchange for mentoring beginning teachers.

Missouri

Gov. Matt Blunt (R), Jan. 15

Vowing for the fourth straight year to keep education his “highest budget priority,” Gov. Blunt is proposing that state aid to K-12 schools be increased by $121 million next fiscal year and calling for quadrupling college-scholarship aid for needy students. The proposed increase is intended to make good on a new school funding formula begun in 2005. If lawmakers agree to the increase, state aid to schools will rise next fiscal year by 4 percent, to $2.96 billion. The governor also wants to spend more to train Advanced Placement teachers in math and science, expand after-school programs, and equip 300 classrooms with state-of-the-art technology for teaching advanced math and science. His $8.8 billion overall state budget proposal also calls for boosting services for children with autism and extending health insurance to more low-income children. The calls for increasing spending reflect, in part, a $508 million surplus carried over from last year.

Nebraska

Gov. Dave Heineman (R), Jan. 15

Gov. Heineman’s State of the State speech emphasized accountability in pre-K-12 education. He called for a simplified student-measurement system, increased parental involvement, and more-rigorous academic standards to close the achievement gap and increase overall academic performance. He noted his recommendation to fully fund the state’s school aid formula, and also praised efforts by the University of Nebraska to increase college-attendance rates.

New Hampshire

Gov. John Lynch (D), Jan. 23

Gov. Lynch, seeking an end to long-running court disputes over school funding, used his State of the State speech to renew his call for a constitutional amendment that would let the state target more money to poorer districts. He also called for strengthening laws protecting children from online predators. With an eye to the slowing economy, in New Hampshire and across the nation, he vowed not to sign any legislation this year that would require additional state spending. The state is in the middle of its two-year budget plan, and the governor said he intends to end the biennium with a balanced budget.

New Jersey

Gov. Jon Corzine (D), Jan. 8

New Jersey lawmakers approved a new school funding formula Jan. 7 that would give more money to needy districts outside the state’s large cities, a milestone that Gov. Jon Corzine noted in his State of the State address.

New Mexico

Gov. Bill Richardson (D), Jan. 15

Gov. Richardson wants to continue to raise teacher salaries by putting another $60 million into educators’ pay. In his speech to the legislature, he also proposed expanding voluntary prekindergarten to an additional 2,000 children. Meanwhile, he said the state would continue its investment of $211 million in refurbishing elementary, middle, and high schools. He touted several state priorities that didn’t carry price tags, including a renewed commitment to arts education, making sure students get a healthy breakfast, and trying new academic approaches.

New York

Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), Jan. 9

Following last year’s major boost in funding and move to increase K-12 public schools’ accountability, Gov. Spitzer says he’s making higher education the priority this year. In his State of the State address, he proposed a $4 billion higher education endowment—possibly paid for by a plan to lease the state lottery—to pay for 2,000 new, full-time faculty members, 250 new “eminent scholars,” and expansion of the community college system. He also called for an “Innovation Fund,” similar to the National Science Foundation, to finance academic research.

Ohio

Gov. Ted Strickland (D), Feb. 6

Gov. Strickland would like to make every high school student who meets certain academic requirements eligible to spend the 12th grade in an Ohio public university, tuition-free. After that year in college, under the proposal he unveiled in his speech in the legislature, students would graduate with a high school diploma and advance to sophomore year in college. He also proposed expanding his control over K-12 education by creating a new director of the state department of education, to be appointed by the governor, who would oversee the department and the board of education. The board-appointed state superintendent of schools would remain, but in a more advisory role.

Oklahoma

Gov. Brad Henry (D), Feb. 4

In his annual speech to lawmakers, Gov. Henry urged them to follow through with the final year of a five-year plan to raise Oklahoma’s average teacher salary by $1,200—bringing it up to the regional average of $43,519. He backed a plan by state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett to expand the school year, whose length lags behind those of most other states by five days, and he proposed a “graduation coach” program aimed at keeping at-risk students from dropping out. That program would be modeled after one in Georgia, which Gov. Sonny Perdue recently recommended for expansion.

Rhode Island

Gov. Donald L. Carcieri (R), Jan. 22

Faced with budget pressures and and opposed to raising taxes, Gov. Carcieri called for a comprehensive review of school funding. He offered no specific restructuring plans, but pointed out that Rhode Island’s per-pupil spending is the ninth highest in the nation—in part, he said, because its 150,000 students attend 36 separate school districts. Fairfax County, Va., he noted, serves roughly the same student population with one district. A coalition of mayors has already begun lobbying the legislature to authorize a network of regional charter schools. (“Rhode Island Coalition Aims to Start Network of Regional Charters,” Dec. 19, 2007.)

South Carolina

Gov. Mark Sanford (R), Jan. 16

Under a theme of giving students more educational choices, Gov. Sanford voiced his support for the concept of scholarships or vouchers for students who attend failing schools and want to attend another public or private school, and proposed providing college aid for students who graduate from high school early. To increase the number of charter schools, the governor wants them to be able to use existing school buildings and have more options for transporting students to school. He also proposed consolidating some rural schools, but encouraging the construction of neighborhood schools. In an acknowledgment of the unfunded liability in the state’s teacher and public-employee pension system, he said the state needs to increase the amount of money to pay for promised pensions, and scale back early-retirement incentives for new employees.

South Dakota

Gov. Michael Rounds (R), Jan. 8

In an address centering on fiscal prudence, Gov. Rounds asked legislators to spend $3 million on classroom laptop computers for 4,600 students and 400 teachers in the next school year, under an existing program. He would also direct $4 million more in salary support to school districts in tight labor markets. But he warned lawmakers not to divert money to local schools from three state trust funds. He also complained of being unfairly accused of scrimping on school funding in the $404 million K-12 school budget, out of a $3.5 billion total state budget, he proposed in December. He said that his budgets, including a 2.5 percent increase for fiscal 2009, have kept schools ahead of inflation, but he maintained that districts have used the increase to pad their general-fund reserves.

Tennessee

Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), Jan. 28

In his sixth State of the State address, Gov. Bredesen announced a $27.8 billion budget plan for fiscal 2009 that would keep spending flat in most areas but give modest increases for some education initiatives, including the state’s universal prekindergarten program. In addition to $4 billion for the basic education program for K-12, the governor proposed $25 million to add as many as 250 new prekindergarten classes. He called for using $200 million in lottery proceeds to set up an endowment to provide college financial aid to more students each year. He asked lawmakers to lower to 2.75 from 3.0 the cumulative grade point average that recipients of lottery-funded scholarships must maintain to keep their awards.

Utah

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R), Jan. 22

In response to a shortage of 400 teachers this year, Gov. Huntsman recommended increasing teachers’ salaries by 7 percent and called on universities to graduate 1,000 more teachers annually, over the next four years. He said he wanted to strengthen principals’ accountability and responsibility—giving them “the ability to reward the good teachers and replace the bad ones”—and to cut back on standardized tests. He gave no details on either idea, however. He also advocated better remedial and accelerated education in the summer months.

Vermont

Gov. Jim Douglas (R), Jan. 10

The governor in his speech to the legislature proposed leasing the state lottery, with $25 million of the proceeds going to property-tax relief and $25 million to modernization of school buildings. He also called for state education leaders to find ways to improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and math. In the new budget, Mr. Douglas said, he will ask for $8 million for college scholarships and workforce training, a 14 percent increase over last year’s appropriation.

Virginia

Gov. Tim Kaine (D), Jan. 9

Gov. Kaine highlighted early-childhood education in his State of the Commonwealth address, announcing a plan to expand the state‘s preschool program for 4-year-olds from low-income families. The increase would allow nearly 20,000 children to participate, up from about 13,000 children. He said investment in early education is vital to the future of the state. The governor also proposed a 3.5 percent teacher-pay increase, effective July 1, 2009.

Washington

Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), Jan. 15

Gov. Gregoire, addressing state legislators, gave herself high marks for overcoming budgetary difficulties and “creating a world-class, learner-focused, seamless education system that gives our kids a chance to get a good job” since taking office in 2005. She noted to the lawmakers that they have restored voter-approved programs to cut class sizes and increase teacher pay. The state has also helped school districts expand preschool and all-day kindergarten and provided incentives to teachers to earn national certification. Gov. Gregoire said the state’s Running Start for the Trades Program for high school students who do not plan to go to college has, in three years, doubled the number of apprenticeships in trades, to 14,500.

West Virginia

Gov. Joe Manchin III (D), Jan. 9

A revised school aid formula that was supposed to provide more money for teacher pay hasn’t worked out the way it was intended and needs to be fixed, Gov. Manchin said during his address to the legislature. The state made changes in the school aid formula for salary supplements, but the money has gone to purposes other than classroom salary supplements, he said. His budget proposal, which includes $1.845 billion in education funding, a 2.8 percent increase over this fiscal year, would require that all the money identified under the revised school aid plan go to teacher salaries. The governor has also proposed creating a commission that would offer recommendations on anti-bullying policies, and taking away the driver licenses of students who commit serious offenses at school.

Wisconsin

Gov. James E. Doyle (D), Jan. 23

The graduation requirements for high school students should include three years of math and three years of science, Gov. Doyle said in his annual address, urging lawmakers to pass such a measure. Wisconsin is one of only five states that let students graduate with only two years in each of those subjects. The governor also said he plans to propose a salary increase for teachers in his 2007-09 biennial budget, and will call for spending $15 million on research-based strategies for improving education in Milwaukee public schools.

Wyoming

Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D), Feb. 11

Unlike many other states, Wyoming finds itself in a healthy financial position, thanks to its mineral and energy wealth, but after making huge investments in education over the past few years, it’s time for restraint, Gov. Freudenthal told lawmakers. For the first year of the two-year budget cycle that begins this summer, he has recommended $1.4 billion in education spending, compared with the $1.1 billion that was appropriated for the current fiscal year. The governor also recommended spending $458 million over the two-year cycle for school renovation and construction.

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