State of the States (2009)

January 08, 2009 42 min read
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Gov. Bob Riley (R), Feb. 3

Gov. Riley used his State of the State address to tout the success of three education programs he said have helped raise reading and math scores: a statewide K-3 reading program, and a mathematics and science initiative that has been part of selected schools. Mr. Riley also said the state’s distance-learning program has given students in low-income and rural areas the opportunity to take Advanced Placement and other high-level courses. All of those programs, the governor said, would be “protected from cuts” in his forthcoming budget proposal. Although Alabama’s financial situation isn’t as bad as that of other states, Mr. Riley said, he warned that “education funding this year is not going to be at the level we want it to be.”


Gov. Sarah Palin (R), Jan. 22

In her first State of the State address since her unsuccessful run for vice president in 2008, Ms. Palin asking lawmakers to continue a commitment to education funding made last year, despite a $1 billion projected state budget because of Alaska’s declining oil revenues. The governor said the state should continue forward-funding K-12 education, a process she and state lawmakers began last year. They agreed to set targets for school funding on a three-year cycle to ease planning for local districts. The state needs to ensure that “schools can plan ahead,” Ms. Palin told lawmakers, “and bureaucracies do not smother a school’s creativity or a student’s aspiration.” The governor also said she would continue to “encourage opportunities” for special-needs students, an issue that arose in the presidential campaign, partly because of attention paid to her infant son, Trig, who was born with Down syndrome. In an effort to improve public health and reduce costs, Ms. Palin said she would do more to encourage schools to incorporate physical education in their daily schedules, though she did not offer details. Alaska does not set requirements for physical education, except that students take one health or pe credit before high school graduation, Mr. Fry said. Gov. Palin separately has proposed increasing the state budget for K-12 schools to just over $1 billion for fiscal year 2010 from $979 million, an increase of almost 5 percent, based on projected student enrollment.


Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), Jan. 12

In her final State of the State address, Gov. Napolitano urged lawmakers dealing with the state’s tough fiscal future to resist cutting money for priorities such as schools as they seek to close a nearly $1.6 billion deficit in the state’s $9.9 billion budget. The governor, who is President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee to become homeland security chief, said the legislature needs to increase classroom funding and teacher pay and that government should look out for the people hardest hit by the receding economy. “It would be wrong to hurt our seniors, our youngest children, and those who are ill or disabled in the name of balancing the budget,” said Gov. Napolitano, who would be replaced, if confirmed to the federal post, by Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer. The governor also voiced support for school choice, saying “we can expand and preserve that choice through the growing institution of quality public charter schools.” And she urged a commitment to higher education, proposing in-state tuition for all military veterans and continued infrastructure improvements at the state’s universities.


Gov. Mike Beebe (D), Jan. 13

Despite economic challenges, Gov. Beebe told legislators that Arkansas would continue investments in K-12 education, increasing per-pupil spending by a total of $234 over the next two years and providing districts with a one-time boost of $35 per student. “It is no surprise that public education remains my first, and my highest, priority for Arkansas,” Mr. Beebe said. “It remains our constitutional obligation and it is our moral imperative to provide the best education possible for our children.” He also outlined plans to expand the state’s need-based and merit-scholarship college programs, and to simplify the application for state financial aid. And he said he would like to revamp the higher-education funding formula to put more emphasis on graduation rates, rather than the number of students enrolled. “Shifting some of the funding formula’s weight from the beginning of the school term to its successful conclusion of that term will provide a financial incentive for our colleges and universities to increase graduation rates,” Gov. Beebe said.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Jan. 15

Education—and virtually all other government priorities—took a back seat to the state’s fiscal crisis as Gov. Schwarzenegger used his State of the State speech to push lawmakers to end a deficit stalemate that threatens to paralyze state operations. Already, the current-year budget deficit of more than $14 billion has led the governor to propose such cost-saving measures as shortening the school year by five days, increasing class sizes, and suspending a grant program designed to help low-performing schools. With the deficit expected to swell to more than $40 billion in the next 18 months, the governor warned lawmakers that new initiatives in education—or anything else—are stalled until the state resolves its fiscal problems. “It doesn’t make any sense to talk about education, infrastructure, water, health care reform, and all these things when we have this huge budget deficit,” the governor said, according to excerpts of the speech released by his office. The governor is calling for twice-a-month, unpaid furloughs for state employees, including education department workers, to save roughly $1.3 billion, but unions have filed a lawsuit hoping to block that move. The governor’s proposed budget of $95.5 billion for fiscal 2010 includes roughly $6 billion in cuts for education programs.


Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. (D), Jan. 8

In his third State of the State address, Gov. Ritter warned of “tough choices” ahead with the state budget given the economic downturn—even though the fiscal 2010 budget request he submitted to lawmakers in November would increase K-12 spending by 4.7 percent. In his Jan. 8 address, the Democratic governor noted steps he already has taken to deal with any decline in state revenue because of the recession. In September, Gov. Ritter announced plans to rein in state spending, including a request to delay the issuing of nearly $35 million in grants for construction efforts to help expand full-day kindergarten across the state. Also, the state department of education and other agencies imposed a hiring freeze. But the governor’s proposed $19.2 billion overall budget for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, includes $4.5 billion for K-12 education, up $221 million. The one new education proposal mentioned in his State of the State address is the establishment of a “statewide concurrent-enrollment plan” that would help more high school students get the opportunity to earn college credits while finishing high school.


Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R), Jan. 7

In a mostly gloomy State of the State address, Gov. Rell called these the “worst financial times any of us can remember” and declared that state government must shrink because families’ personal budgets are shrinking. The Republican governor didn’t outline any new programs, spending, or cuts—and didn’t specifically touch on K-12 education—but reiterated her attempt last month to establish a new $25 million low-interest college loan program to help struggling families pay tuition during this spring’s semester. “In recent good economic times, we made strategic and historic investments in our state. We took advantage of a strong economy to invest in education, in transportation, in healthy children, and in the technologies that will lead us into the future,” she said. “In these difficult economic times, we must now find strategic savings and reductions throughout government.”


Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D), tba

Gov. Minner has not yet announced the date of her address.


Gov. Charlie Crist (R), Mar. 3

Gov. Crist focused considerable attention on education in his annual address to lawmakers, urging them to embrace his plan to spend federal stimulus aid on schools and other initiatives, and to increase per-pupil spending for education. At the same time, he reiterated his call for legislation requiring school districts to spend 70 percent of their budgets directly “in the classroom for our students and teachers.” The governor’s $21.5 billion K-12 budget request for fiscal 2009, an increase of about 5 percent from the current fiscal year, includes $1.5 billion in federal funds through the stimulus package. The plan would raise per-pupil spending on average to $7,044, up 2.7 percent. Mr. Crist said his proposal for school systems to spend 70 percent of their budgets in the classroom would also seek to “instill transparency” by requiring districts to provide “dollar-by-dollar details online” of their spending. “Floridians deserve to know how their hard-earned dollars are being spent,” he said, “and parents have a right to demand accountability.”


Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), Jan. 14

Bonuses of $10,000 for high school principals who improve graduation rates and test scores, performance pay for teachers, and higher pay to recruit math and science teachers were among the proposals in Gov. Perdue’s annual address to lawmakers. “Currently, extraordinary teachers are locked into a compensation model that fails to reward excellence,” he said. “This is the next step in moving education from a culture of compliance to one based on performance.” If passed, his incentive programs wouldn’t go into effect until the 2010-11 school year. As expected, the governor is also recommending legislation requiring ethics policies and training for local school board members. His plan, prompted by local board misconduct that led to the Clayton County school district’s loss of accreditation last year, would also allow the state to replace local board members if necessary. “Never again do I intend for the state to be handcuffed by our current law and powerless to help students who are being failed by the adults in their community,” he said.


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 business and individuals to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, education in public schools, and a stronger funding commitment to charter schools.


Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter (R), Jan. 12

State public education programs are among the biggest targets of $217 million in proposed budget cuts Gov. Otter outlined Monday during his State of the State speech, where he called for “frugality and common sense” as well as compassion. Though he used some $60 million from an education reserve fund to shield education from budget holdbacks during the current year, Otter won’t use the remaining $53 million and told teachers he expects them to accept less during contract talks slated for upcoming months. His plan calls for cutting $75.8 million from Idaho’s share of public education funding, which would slip to $1.34 billion. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said he’s told public school administrators and teachers that they should expect a $60 million to $80 million cut, compared with last year. He also is proposing to shift responsibility for some day-to-day operations from the state school board to the state Department of Education or elsewhere in the state government.


Gov. Pat Quinn (D), March 18

The newly installed governor, in his first budget address to the Illinois legislature, vowed to close his state’s $11.6 billion deficit through tax hikes and spending cuts, though he vowed to spare K-12 education from those reductions. Mr. Quinn, who took office as Illinois chief executive in January, inherited a budget gap of $4.3 billion for the current year, fiscal 2009, and an expected $7.3 billion deficit for fiscal 2010, out of a total state budget of $53 billion. He pledged to trim $800 million from next year’s budget, but said he would not cut education or health care. The governor said he will increase funding for prekindergarten through high school by $174 million in fiscal 2010, out of a total budget of $7.6 billion for schools. Per-pupil K-12 spending would rise by $130, to $6,089, from $5,959. The state is expected to receive $2.8 billion in federal money over the next 2½ years to support K-12 education, according to budget documents. “Jobs follow brain power,” Mr. Quinn told lawmakers. “The best way to attract and keep businesses in Illinois is to offer employers a smart, well-trained workforce.”


Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), Jan. 13

Warning that the strained state budget will require some shifts in priorities, Gov. Daniels said he would ask the state to postpone the move to completely fund full-day kindergarten this budget year. State funding has been increased in recent years for that purpose, but to provide full funding this year would force cuts in other areas, he said. In his State of the State address, the Republican governor also took rhetorical aim at what he said were inflated K-12 school bureaucracies that divert money to salaries and away from teachers and classroom needs. “The goal is smaller schools, smaller classrooms, more and better-paid teachers, better academic opportunities for our kids, through lower overhead,” he said. But the governor also said maintaining existing funding levels for public education should be a goal for Indiana at a time when other states are facing large cuts in that area. “Protecting education funding at this year’s levels would be a significant victory,” Gov. Daniels said.


Gov. Chet Culver (D), Jan. 13

Education took a back seat to other issues in Gov. Culver’s condition of the state address, which focused primarily on the need to rebuild the state’s infrastructure after last summers’ floods. Gov. Culver urged lawmakers to approve a plan that would allow the state to use its bonding authority to borrow $700 million to pay for the rebuilding. The money could be used to refurbish public buildings, including schools, and rebuild roads and telecommunications, among other purposes. “This legislative session, we must address every facet of our 21st-century infrastructure, to ensure that we continue to grow our economy and support the jobs of the future,” he said. Iowa faces a roughly $100 million funding shortfall, which will be addressed when the governor releases his budget next month.


Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), Jan. 12

Despite nearly $1.2 billion in projected shortfalls in the fiscal 2009 and 2010 budgets, Gov. Sebelius struck a positive note in her State of the State Address, saying education must remain one of the state’s top priorities even as legislators make painful cuts. The state faces a deficit of nearly $200 million in the current year’s budget, and the governor had asked state departments to look for cuts of about 3 percent last fall, a number that now is not enough to make up the gap. A deficit of $1 billion is expected in the fiscal 2010 budget, and she pledged to present balanced budgets that exclude tax hikes. “In an economic downturn, decisions can have dire consequences and a lifetime impact on future generations,” Gov. Sebelius said, without making any specific program or budget recommendations about K-12 education. “No student can afford to ‘miss’ a few years of quality education.”


Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Feb. 4

Gov. Beshear is calling for a “thorough review” of Kentucky’s 18-year-old school reform law and will form a task force charged with improving the quality of children’s services. The 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act drew national praise and attention, but the state needs to revisit it to “not only check our course and see if any corrective steering is necessary, but just as importantly, to renew and re-energize our commitment to education,” Mr. Beshear said. He plans to convene educators, legislators, and business leaders to review the KERA law and recommend changes. In discussing the state’s budget crisis, the first-term governor said he wants to protect K-12 and higher education programs from cuts.


Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), tba

Gov. Jindal has not yet announced the date of his address.


Gov. John E. Baldacci (D), March 10

Gov. Baldacci unveiled a planned expansion of the state’s pioneering laptop program to ensure that all students in grades 7-12 have laptop computers in school, and that those computers are equipped with software that families can use for career information. State officials are negotiating a lease with Apple Inc. for 100,000 laptops—enough for all public school students and staff members in that grade span—at a price tag of $25 million a year. Currently, all 7th and 8th graders and students in about 30 of 100 public high schools have laptops. Gov. Baldacci also told lawmakers in his annual address that the state should continue its push to streamline the administration of K-12 schools. “The way forward—the way to protect local schools and resources for the classroom—is to stop wasting money on unnecessary bureaucracies and administrations,” he said.


Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Jan. 29

Gov. O’Malley made it clear during his address to lawmakers that spending on education will not suffer even during these harsh economic times, reiterating his proposal to spend an additional $68.3 million on K-12 education. His budget plan, unveiled Jan. 20, would bring total annual K-12 spending to $5.4 billion. In his speech, he cited Maryland’s high ranking for its public schools in the most recent edition of Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report, and linked the quality of the state’s schools to the economy. “At the center of our job-creation strategy is our greatest asset: the skills, creativity, talents, and ingenuity of our people,” he said. Instead of calling for new education programs, Gov. O’Malley used his speech to focus on key pieces of his budget plan. He emphasized the importance of college affordability, which translates in his budget plan into a fourth straight year of no increases in college tuition for students attending schools in the state university system. He also pledged to eradicate child hunger by 2015, which in his budget translates into an additional $22 million for school lunch and other nutrition programs.


Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D), Jan. 15

In his second State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Patrick warned lawmakers that the state will have to make another $1.1 billion in cuts to the current year’s budget and that “local services will be cut, and in many cases, police, firefighters, and teachers will face layoffs.” While the state in October closed a $1.4 billion budget gap, Gov. Patrick said the worsening economy is forcing the additional cuts, and he plans to file an emergency recovery plan at the end of the month. But, he said, the state must maintain its commitment to change launched a year ago, including in education. “Our teachers and students continue to reach for ever better performance, scoring first in the nation on naep, the nation’s ‘report card,’ and near the top in the world on timss, the international standards for math and science,” he said. “We are not standing still.” The governor was referring to the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.


Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D), Feb. 3

The governor told lawmakers that education remains one of the top three priorities for the state, which has fared among the worst in the nation in the economic crisis. Ten “promise zones” would be set up in poor communities that will guarantee free college access to students. She also announced the creation of a Michigan College Access Network, to be launched at an April education summit. The network would be charged with ensuring all students and their parents get access to information on postsecondary educational options. Education, Gov. Granholm said, will help spur job growth in the economically battered state. She said that “the two critical questions our families must answer are: Where are the kids going to college after high school—not if they are going, but where? What training do mom and dad need to move up at work or get a new job in a new field?”


Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Jan. 15

Gov. Pawlenty used his seventh State of the State address to propose an ambitious school improvement plan that would give school districts extra funding based on how their students perform, raise the bar for teachers and teacher preparation, and expand the state’s teacher performance-pay program, Q Comp. Saying that “our K-12 system is not ready for the future,” Gov. Pawlenty told lawmakers that his budget—which he will present in two weeks—would include a provision offering districts up to an additional 2 percent per student in state aid for every student meeting standards or showing reasonable growth toward achievement. “Our school finance system sends money to schools whether they’re doing a good job or not. This isn’t how the world works anymore, and it’s not in the best interests of student learning or greater accountability,” Gov. Pawlenty said. The governor pressed for the passage of his Teaching Transformation Act, which would set tougher requirements for candidates seeking admission to teacher-preparation programs, as well as for those looking for jobs in the state’s schools. He also proposed cracking down on teacher strikes, saying Minnesota is one of only 13 states that now allow public school teachers to strike.


Gov. Haley Barbour (R), Jan. 13

Gov. Barbour warned lawmakers in his annual address that he will have to cut spending on the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which finances K-12 schools, by 3.8 percent. Under state law, a governor may not cut any individual agency’s budget by more than 5 percent until every agency’s budget has been cut by that percentage, Gov. Barbour said. The state cut $42 million from the budget in November, but K-12 funding was spared, according to the Associated Press. “The law gives me very little latitude about how I can distribute these cuts,””Gov. Barbour said. “The effect of this law is that I can no longer exempt the Mississippi Adequate Education Program from cuts.” But he said school districts in the state have done a good job squirreling away cash in anticipation of tough times. The State Department of Education reported that local school districts have $517 million in reserve, or 50 percent more money than is in the state’s own rainy day fund, Gov. Barbour said.


Gov. Jay Nixon (D), Jan. 27

In his first state of the state address to lawmakers, Gov. Nixon pledged to fully fund planned increases in state aid to K-12 schools—even as he seeks to shrink the state’s government to its smallest size in a decade. The Show Me State is in the midst of a multi-year transition to a new, more generous school-funding formula. Districts are scheduled to receive $3 billion in fiscal 2010, an increase of $61.7 million over this year’s funding level. The governor’s proposed $8.8 billion budget also calls for increases in funding for early childhood education programs, special education, the state’s career-ladder program for teachers, and student transportation and food services. He told lawmakers that he also wants to put aside an extra $250,000 for alternative schools for students who are disruptive in mainstream classes. The state’s public colleges and universities would also see increases under the governor’s budget plan, provided that they agree to freeze tuition rates this year. Mr. Nixon said he wants to expand the state’s A+ Program, which provides two-year scholarships for graduating high school students to attend two-year community colleges, and vocational or technical schools. The increases come as the state faces a deficit of a quarter-billion dollars in its fiscal 2009 budget and the governor makes plans to cut more than 1,300 jobs from the state payroll.


Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), Jan. 28

Gov. Schweitzer proposed a new tax on gas and oil production in the state that could yield more than $40 million in additonal money to pay for higher teacher salaries. “I have heard legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, who called for higher teacher salaries during your campaigns. Now is the time to put your promises to the test,” the governor said in his prepared text. Under a bill introduced hours before Gov. Schweitzer’s speech, the teacher pay increases would be funded by imposing a state tax of $1 for a barrel of oil and 8 cents for every thousand cubic feet of natural gas. During his re-election campaign last year, the governor boasted of increasing K-12 education funding by 27 percent—to more than $650 million—and offering full-day kindergarten statewide since taking office in 2005.


Gov. Dave Heineman (R), Jan. 15

Gov. Heineman unveiled a two-year budget that would include $100 million in additional K-12 education spending over that period, as well as $16.8 million in additional funding for special education programs. “Our most precious resource is our kids, and I want to ensure that we provide them a quality education,” Gov. Heineman told lawmakers. The state is among the minority nationally without a deficit, although Gov. Heineman’s new budget assumes that there will be no revenue growth in fiscal year 2010. While the state-aid formula calls for about $230 million in additional K-12 spending over that period, the governor’s proposal falls short of that. Even so, it represents an average 6.1 percent boost in K-12 spending over the two-year period and nearly 4.6 percent increase in special education spending through 2011. If approved, Nebraska’s education budget would be $1.7 billion. Higher education would also receive a boost. The University of Nebraska system will receive $25.6 million more and the state and community colleges will see an increase of approximately $4 million under Gov. Heineman’s budget.


Gov. Jim Gibbons (R), Jan. 15

Gov. Gibbons warned lawmakers that nearly all sectors of the state government, including K-12 education, would be affected by cuts as he submitted a $17.3 billion 2009-2011 budget proposal that is $633 million smaller than the previous two-year budget. That would be a decrease of 9 percent. His plan would provide $1.1 billion in fiscal 2010 for K-12 education, down from $1.2 billion in fiscal 2009. A program to provide early-intervention services to children with developmental delays would receive a $9 million increase, however, and the budget also would preserve an all-day-kindergarten program in schools that predominantly serve children deemed at risk of academic failure. But spending on higher education would fall to $424 million in fiscal 2010 from the current year’s figure of $667 million, a drop of 36 percent. The governor also proposed cutting the salaries of state employees and teachers by 6 percent, a move that has been criticized. He gave no details in his speech on how teacher salaries, which typically are set by local contracts, would be cut.

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. 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.

New Jersey

Gov. Jon Corzine (D), Jan. 13

Gov. Corzine pledged in his State of the State Address to preserve the state’s hefty investment in precollegiate education, even as the fallout of the national recession forces rounds of cuts in the Garden State’s budget. Although lawmakers have already had to cut $800 million out of the state’s current $32.9 billion budget, the governor said that when he outlines his proposed fiscal 2010 spending in March, he will “undoubtedly” have to ask for more deep cuts. Nonetheless, Gov. Corzine told the Democrat-controlled state legislature that “no issue has been closer to my heart than education.” He noted that even in the face of big cuts in the 2009 budget, the state increased total education spending by nearly $500 million. The additional spending will fuel implementation of the state’s new funding formula, which has been redesigned to better reach children in poverty statewide. The governor said he is also committed to improving school facilities, and noted that the current budget includes $3.9 billion in new school construction. Such projects can help fuel the state’s flagging economy and “plant the seeds for future prosperity,” he said.

New Mexico

Gov. Bill Richardson (D), Jan. 20

Stressing the need to build a stronger employee base in New Mexico, Gov. Richardson told lawmakers that “the key to this workforce is education” and proposed a change in the school finance formula to more reliably fund small and rural schools. The governor also proposed increasing the math requirement for new elementary and middle school teachers, and tightening the school calendar so that days for students to learn would not be replaced with teacher-training days. “We continue to make steady progress—aligning grades, improving accountability in our schools, and fighting to close the achievement gap,” Mr. Richardson said, according to a statement of his prepared remarks. He said that proof of the state’s progress in education could be seen in the Quality Counts 2009 report, published by Education Week, which ranked New Mexico 22nd in the nation for its quality of education, up from 30th the previous year.

New York

Gov. David Paterson (D), Jan. 7

In an acknowledgment of New York’s “perilous” budget situation, Gov. Paterson in his first State of the State address did not call for any additional spending on K-12 education—and, in fact, barely mentioned public schools at all. Facing a still-growing $1.7 billion deficit this budget year and a projected $13.7 billion shortfall in fiscal 2010, Gov. Paterson declared the state can’t spend more money on programs and must use available state dollars more efficiently. He first laid out his $79.8 billion state budget plan for fiscal 2010 more than a month ago, calling state aid for K-12 education to be cut by 3.3 percent below current levels, for a total of $20.7 billion. Gov. Paterson did not talk about those cuts specifically in his address to state lawmakers, but did call for spending $350 million on a new student-loan program to help offset college costs. He also said that he would launch an anti-obesity measure that would include banning junk foods in school vending machines. In addition, he said he wants to expand public-private partnerships to create more early admissions to college, as a way of helping to stem the high school dropout crisis. But he provided no other details on the idea.

North Carolina

Gov. Beverly Perdue (D), March 9

Gov. Perdue won a bipartisan standing ovation in her first State of the State address when she pledged that even in tough times, the state “will increase per-pupil spending in our public schools,” while warning that she and the legislature would have to make “hard, painful decisions” on the budget. The new governor’s pledge to increase per-pupil spending surprised many legislators, who questioned how she would make such a move when the state government faces a projected $3.6 billion spending gap entering next year. Her office has said the state could receive at least $1.4 billion in federal stimulus aid for education in the next two years. North Carolina spent $12 billion in federal, state, and local funds, or $8,522 per pupil, during the 2007-08 school year, according to the most recent data from the state education department. The state portion of the per-pupil spending was $5,616 last year. In her speech, the governor also called for school testing reform and for getting the business community involved in training workers. And she said she wanted to expand a college-affordability program to help children as early as 5th grade with the pledge of a debt-free college education.

North Dakota

Gov. John Hoeven (R), Jan. 6

Pointing to a thriving state economy, a budget surplus, and even a growing population, Gov. Hoeven used his annual State of the State speech to tout a plan to reform school financing in a way intended to increase equity and reduce property taxes statewide. The plan, based on the recommendations of the state’s Commission on Education Improvement, is expected to reduce property taxes in North Dakota by $300 million in the 2010-11 biennial budget. It will add $130 million to the K-12 budget, bringing it to a proposed $891.1 million for the biennium. “Combined, our plan will improve the quality of education for our children, reform the way we fund education, return tax dollars to the citizens of North Dakota, and provide real, permanent tax relief to homeowners, businesses, farmers, and ranchers across our state,” Mr. Hoeven said. The boost in education funding, which will raise the state share of school budgets to 70 percent, will be used to expand academic programs and teacher professional development, and to increase teacher salaries, he added.


Gov. Ted Strickland (D), Jan. 28

Gov. Strickland proposed an overhaul of the state’s school funding, expansion of the school year by 20 days, elimination of the high school graduation test in favor of requiring all students take the ACT college-entrance test, and steps to improve teacher quality. He told lawmakers his plan would take the state’s share of education funding to 55 percent, an amount that would grow to 59 percent once the plan was completely implemented. The governor, who received strong support from teachers’ unions during his 2006 campaign, also proposed a four-year residency training program for teachers, similar to what doctors undergo, at the end of which a teacher would receive a professional license. He proposed making it easier for school administrators to fire bad teachers. His education plan also would require districts to be audited by the state Department of Education to determine how well they’re meeting state academic standards and would let the state take control of districts that don’t comply with new state academic and operating standards and replace district leaders. The governor also would require the state to begin offering universal, all-day kindergarten.


Gov. Brad Henry (D), Feb. 2

Gov. Henry congratulated legislators in his annual speech on increasing teacher pay, improving early-childhood education, strengthening accountability in schools, and providing funding for underprivileged students to go to college. He also praised the state’s actions in improving students’ health through initiatives such as the Strong and Healthy Oklahoma program, which doubles physical education requirements and restricts the selling of unhealthy drinks and snack foods at schools. Looking forward, the governor encouraged lawmakers to finance a “graduation coaches” program that would match up community volunteers with students at risk of dropping out, an undertaking he emphasized in his 2008 State of the State speech as well.


Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D), Jan. 12

In his annual address to lawmakers, Gov. Kulongoski named education as his top priority for the upcoming 2009-2011 biennium, tying a well-educated workforce to a thriving economy and promising to align what students learn in school with the skills they need to succeed in the marketplace. He promised to “build a protective wall around funding for education,” although he did not mention any specific dollar amounts for K-12 schools this year. The governor emphasized the need for a “larger science infrastructure” to train and recruit scientists and engineers to help research green technologies and alternative energy sources. He also warned of tough budget decisions that will have to be made by the legislature and said he would make new budget proposals in March.


Gov. Edward Rendell (D), Feb. 3

Gov. Rendell proposed a fiscal 2010 budget that increases the state’s basic-education subsidy by 5.7 percent, saying even though the state is facing a $2.3 billion shortfall in the current budget year, it is imperative to invest in education. In his annual budget address, the governor outlined a $61.7 billion spending plan that includes almost $1 billion in cuts in nearly every government agency. And while reductions in education programs were sprinkled liberally throughout his proposed budget, the overall proposed precollegiate spending plan of $9.9 billion represents a 2.8 percent increase over last year. Gov. Rendell said Pennsylvania can use federal stimulus dollars to help protect its education programs. Citing figures based on versions of the package still being considered, he said the state expected to get $1.26 billion per year in fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011, and would have to devote 61 percent—or $771 million per year—to K-12 and collegiate spending. Among the proposed increases is $300 million to help equalize spending, especially in needy districts, through the state’s new funding formula. The governor also called for spending $95 million—a 10 percent increase—to provide prekindergarten programs for an additional 12,850 children. To boost affordability at public colleges and universities, the governor proposed that families earning less than $100,000 per year be allowed to pay what they can afford, but no less than $1,000. To pay for that program, he proposed legalizing video poker and taxing its proceeds.

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.

South Carolina

Gov. Mark Sanford (R), Jan. 14

More money is not the only way to improve education in the state, Gov. Sanford said in an address telling legislators they should face economic challenges by offering more choices that reflect the individual diversity among the state’s 700,000 students. The governor, whose proposals did not include an increased in aid to schooling, said he would like to enact education funding that “follows the child,” so that opportunities are not limited based on geography. He would also like to see an expansion of charter schools. “If we limit choice to simply a monopoly of public schools, we will never have real choice,” he said. The governor’s $21 billion fiscal 2010 proposed budget also includes $1.2 million to reward students who graduate earlier than the traditional four year of high school, and would provide chronically low-performing schools the flexibility to pursue innovative restructuring programs. Some $3.6 billion of the Gov. Sanford’s proposed budget is for K-12 education, about the same as the current year.

South Dakota

Gov. Michael Rounds (R), Jan. 13

In an address that steered clear of new initiatives and made only glancing references to education, Gov. Rounds urged state lawmakers “to resist the temptation of increasing spending” and instead to focus on making sure the final budget is balanced. “This year we must make some very tough choices,” the governor said in his State of the State speech, telling legislators to expect his revised budget proposal, due Jan. 22, to be fiscally austere yet aimed at attracting jobs. The two-term governor claimed some improvements to K-12 education since he was first elected in 2002. Schools have posted gains in student proficiency in both reading and math, and fewer high school graduates require remedial math and reading classes when entering college, he said. Gov. Rounds also defended increases in the number of employees in the state university system during his tenure, for which he has been criticized. Most of those jobs are paid for through federal dollars, fees, and grants—not from the state’s general revenues, he said. It would not help balance the budget to lay off university personnel, he said: “We need them, because we need more teachers to teach more students.”


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.


Gov. Rick Perry (R), Jan. 27

Gov. Perry called on Texas legislators returning for their biennial session “to improve education in our state at every level,” emphasizing high school improvement efforts, the importance of educational technology, and steps to ease the burden of rising college tuition. The governor cited the need to continue the Texas High School Project, which aims to improve the graduation rates of disadvantaged students. He noted that Texas had created 32 academies focused on mathematics, science, and technology through that project. He called for an updating of laws and regulations so that schools can more easily purchase educational technology. For example, he said, schools should be able to buy electronic versions of textbooks that have been approved by the state board of education. And he received applause from the legislature when he proposed that college-tuition rates be frozen at the level that a student pays when entering a college or university as a freshman. In addition, Gov. Perry said he’d like to see the state increase its investment in community colleges.


Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R), Jan. 26

Gov. Huntsman touted the state’s progress in expanding full-day kindergarten, offering Mandarin Chinese foreign language classes to more students, and raising teacher salaries. He also called for 2009 to be the “year of math” in K-12 and higher education, although he didn’t outline any specific programs. But he acknowledged to lawmakers that progress on many education-reform efforts—including on such costly initiatives as raising teacher salaries—may stall in light of economic pressures. Utah’s budget shortfall next fiscal year is expected to be about $450 million, out of a total $10.6 billion budget. “While in these times we may not be able to further that investment, we must not lose ground,” the governor said. And in making tough budget decisions, he called for lawmakers to be “mindful of the children we are impacting, the jobs we are eliminating.”


Gov. Jim Douglas (R), Jan. 8

Gov. Douglas used his fourth inaugural address—in effect, his “State of the State” speech—to call for big cuts in spending on K-12 public schools, saying cash-strapped Vermont can’t afford rising education costs when student enrollments are declining. His proposal immediately came under fire from teachers’ union leaders and other education advocates. In the address to lawmakers, he also called for merging the University of Vermont with the state college system and boosting funding for both higher education and preschool by 20 percent, saying Vermont must correct a “startling imbalance” between support for public schools—among the highest in the nation, per pupil—and support for higher education, which is among the lowest. To curb the growth in K-12 spending, he proposed freezing per-pupil spending at current levels—the statewide average is $11,621—although districts spending more than that would be allowed to continue doing so. He would move $40 million in annual costs for the teachers’ retirement fund from the state’s general fund to its education fund, and trim $23 million from the expected $298 million state contribution to the education fund. Gov. Douglas also urged quick passage of a package of measures designed to crack down on sex crimes against children, including a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for a newly defined crime of aggravated sexual assault on a victim younger than 16.


Gov. Tim Kaine (D), Jan. 14

Gov. Kaine said state revenue reductions are forcing him to propose cuts in funding for administrative and other support personnel in schools. “For years we’ve applied a cap to determine the number of teachers and principals we fund—we should do the same for support staff,” he told legislators in his annual address. Making cuts in that area would help protect the “core priority” of schools, which is the classroom, the governor said. Virginia is in the second year of its two-year budget cycle. The proposed funding cap of one support person for every four instructional employees would result in a savings of about $341 million for fiscal 2010, according to Gov. Kaine’s proposal.


Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), Jan. 14

Washington State will help its residents weather the nation’s economic crisis with a $1 billion state jobs package focused on building schools, roads, and a “green economy for the 21st century,” Gov. Gregoire told the state legislature in her annual address. The governor told lawmakers that the new jobs plan and $3 billion in previously scheduled transportation projects would provide 20,000 jobs. The governor’s list of new projects includes buildings, renovations, and infrastructure repairs at community colleges and public universities, and cleanups of soil contamination at 43 daycare centers. She said the jobs plan would be “in partnership” with the stimulus plan being formulated at the federal level. Gov. Gregoire warned lawmakers that the nationwide financial storm will temporarily dampen the state’s efforts to create a “world-class education system” and improve health care and economic growth, but that spending on basics would include protection of the state’s children, schools, and universities. “We need to preserve our education system to make sure we provide workers skilled in science, math, engineering and technology,” she said.

West Virginia

Gov. Joe Manchin III (D), Feb. 11

Students who fail to meet state standards at either 3rd or 8th grade would 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.


Gov. James E. Doyle (D), Jan. 28

Gov. Doyle offered few details of his budget plan in his State of the State address, other than to say the two-year spending proposal he plans to deliver to the legislature this month will include some significant belt-tightening. One specific education issue, however, did get a nod. The governor said he would like to pass a law requiring private health insurers to cover autism. Treatment has been proven effective, he said, “and families deserve the right to see their children improve.” The recession is making it hard to meet budget demands, he said. “I am not going to say education funding is off limits,” he told lawmakers. “But I will not allow cuts that ruin the quality of our classrooms or make universities and technical colleges out of reach for working families.” Mr. Doyle said he hopes Wisconsin will be able to use proposed federal stimulus dollars to good effect. Even in a climate of having to do more with less, he said, “we can change school funding in a way that encourages the hiring and retention of good teachers, provides for high standards, and encourages efficiencies in our school districts.”


Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D), Jan. 14

Gov. Freudenthal expressed a desire to make K-12 funding more efficient and to streamline the juvenile-justice system in a speech that focused mainly on the need for fiscal prudence even though Wyoming—unlike many other states—still has a budget surplus. On K-12 education, Gov. Freudenthal called on lawmakers to cull needless earmarks from the funding formula and argued that the state’s current level of funding is sufficient to ensure that students are well prepared to enroll in a state college, obtain vocational training, or enter the job market.

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