Texas: Sin taxes

Republican Gov. Rick Perry is facing opposition from his own party over his plan to increase sin taxes to pay for education, according to the April 24 Houston Chronicle. Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst both oppose the idea, and the GOP-controlled Legislature isn’t jumping on board with Perry. The governor wants to cut property taxes for more affluent homeowners while increasing cigarette taxes, imposing an admission tax on topless bars and expanding video gambling to racetracks.

California: College prep

A bill now pending in the Legislature would require all high school students to take a college-prep curriculum starting in 2010, according to the April 21 Contra Costa Times. Students would have to take the minimum requirements for admission to colleges in the state university system. “All of our students need the skills once reserved for our college-bound students,” says state Schools Chief Jack O’Connell. In order to pay for the more rigorous coursework, schools would be given more flexibility in how they spend some state funds.

Maryland: Teacher rehires

Schools will no longer be able to rehire retired teachers since lawmakers scrapped a plan aimed at bringing veteran math, science and special education teachers back to struggling schools, according to the April 14 Baltimore Sun. Lawmakers could not agree on reforms to curb misuse of the program. An investigation by the Sun found that many of the rehires were at high-performing schools and some were earning over $100,000 in combined salaries and pension. As many as 1,000 rehired teachers and principals won’t return next school year unless they agree to work part time or reduce their pensions.

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