State Legislatures May Juggle Education Priorities And Fiscal Needs

The 2008 state legislative season launches this month under a fiscal cloud in a number of states, where ambitious education initiatives—including expanded pre-K programs, college- or career-preparation efforts, and improved teacher pay—may end up being balanced against gloomy revenue projections.

“It looks like we have one more decent year before things fall apart,” Julie Bell, the education program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said about the fiscal 2009 economic outlook, coming on the heels of a year in which 15 states have reported deficits or revenue shortfalls.

A revenue slowdown—foreshadowed last month in reports by the Denver-based NCSL and by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, in Washington—comes as states prepare to tackle such potentially costly issues as education equity and adequacy and the condition of school facilities.

California, for example, is expected to take up school governance and finance in what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has said will be the “year of education”—even as he warns of a “fiscal emergency” facing the state, in the form of a projected deficit of up to $14 billion in the next year and a half.

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(Education Week 01.02.08) Please note: A free registration is required to view this article.

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