According to Reuters, Indiana state legislators will work to amend laws that allow local governments to stash hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves, even as the state attempts to boost its lagging economy and prevent cuts in education spending, lawmakers said on Sunday. Officials confirmed that Indiana townships, which are micro units of government that range in size from hundreds to several hundred thousand residents, had retained nearly $300 million in cash reserves at the end of 2009. Estimates have put that number north of the $300 million range for 2010, although no official numbers are available……Read More
Facing huge budget deficits, a number of states across the nation are taking a hard look at whether they can continue to support public television, Stateline.org reports. Idaho Public Television already has seen its state funding cut by 61 percent since July 2008, necessitating layoffs, furloughs, and the frequent airing of reruns. Now, a new proposal from Gov. Butch Otter would force it to reduce or eliminate most of its local programming—and cease serving many rural parts of the state altogether. The challenges that Idaho Public Television is facing are emblematic of the decisions that public television stations around the country will have to make if states decide that public TV is no longer a business they can afford to be in. According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, state and local funding for public TV stations nationwide declined by $36 million between 2008 and 2009. CPB forecasts an additional $45 to $49 million in state and local cuts for the upcoming fiscal year. States have cut back on funding during previous economic downturns, says Mark Erstling, a senior vice president at CPB, but this downturn poses a new threat. “The revenue sources [such as member donations] always made up the difference,” he says. “This time around, everything is basically down.”…Read More
In a speech to the state Monday, Gov. Jim Gibbons demanded that lawmakers consider major changes to public education in the special session tentatively set for Feb. 23, reports the Nevada Appeal. Pointing out that education consumes 54 percent of the state’s general fund budget, Gibbons said, “We can’t solve a $1 billion hole in a $6 billion budget if half of that budget is off the table.” He said 142 of Nevada’s 613 public schools qualify as “the worst schools in the nation,” and that more money won’t help fix those schools.
His solution, he said, is to “quit throwing money at programs that haven’t worked and don’t work for our children.” The prime examples he cited in his speech are class size reduction and full-day kindergarten. Gibbons said he won’t eliminate those programs, just remove the mandates imposing them on districts…