Friday News Roundup: Week of June 13-17

Washington Gov. Gregoire signs budget while bemoaning deep education cuts

South Carolina Legislature reaches $6 billion spending plan

Keeping Texas full-day public pre-K alive, with fees

Iowa Dems still hope to shift money to education

Washington Gov. Gregoire signs budget while bemoaning deep education cuts
Under the strain of substantial fiscal constraints, Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire this week signed a biennial spending plan for fiscal years 2011-2013 that will cut spending statewide by $4.5 billion over two years, compared to what the state had expected to spend through 2013. Education bears a significant portion of those cuts through teacher salary reductions, the elimination of programs that limit class sizes, and massive tuition increases for higher education institutions. Governor Gregoire expressed her displeasure with the cuts, but described them as “necessary” given the economic turmoil. More here…

South Carolina Legislature reaches $6 billion spending plan
A South Carolina House and Senate conference committee on the fiscal year 2012 budget reached a final agreement this week. Acting under recent estimates that tax revenue will now be higher-than-expected by $210 million, negotiators agreed that schools will receive $56 million of that amount, raising per-student spending by over $200 to $1,880, with the remainder going to tax breaks for businesses. The Senate version would have added $105 million to public schools, but Governor Nikki Haley threatened to veto any additional spending on public education, so conference negotiators agreed to education spending levels set by the House. More here…

Keeping Texas full-day public pre-K alive, with fees
Though half-day pre-kindergarten for low income students and English language learners will remain fully funded for the fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, Texas legislators eliminated the grant program that allowed schools to extend pre-K programs to full day. The program totaled $208 million in the 2009-2011 biennium. Some school districts have pledged to keep the full-day pre-K option available for students by charging tuition to parents who can afford to pay; those tuition dollars will be used to support the enrollment of children from low-income families. More here…

Iowa Dems still hope to shift money to education
Iowa House Republicans and GOP Governor Terry Branstad are one step closer to reaching a budget deal for fiscal year 2012, as Senate Democrats this week accepted their $5.99 billion overall spending cap. Democrats, for their part, are working to negotiate additional funding within that limit for public education. A budget plan passed by the House would give $277 million to public K-12 education over two years, including an additional $65 million for fiscal year 2013; and would retain preschool programs but would chop per-pupil funding for the program in half, from $3,600 to $1,800 per student. Party leaders in the legislature will continue to negotiate ahead of the July 1 deadline. More here…

Author:

Clare McCann is the deputy director for federal higher education policy with New America's Education Policy program. She previously served as a senior adviser on higher education policy at the U.S. Department of Education.