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Voters send mixed messages on funding education.

Voters who went to the polls in November sent mixed messages on referendums designed to increase education funding in several states. In Washington, residents voted down a measure creating charter schools.

Residents in Washington, Nevada, Arkansas Arkansas, river, United States
Arkansas (ärkăn`zəs, är`kənsô'), river, c.1,450 mi (2,330 km) long, rising in the Rocky Mts., central Colo.
 and Missouri Missouri, state, United States
Missouri (mĭzr`ē, –ə), one of the midwestern states of the United States.
 also defeated initiatives that would have channeled more money to school districts. But Oklahoma residents approved a state lottery A game of chance operated by a state government.

Generally a lottery offers a person the chance to win a prize in exchange for something of lesser value. Most lotteries offer a large cash prize, and the chance to win the cash prize is typically available for one dollar.
 that sends revenue to schools, and Maine voters defeated a property-tax cap that critics said would result in cuts in school aid.

Education advocates say the funding defeats are not a signal that voters aren't in favor of upon the side of; favorable to; for the advantage of.

See also: favor
 school spending, just that they are cautious about how money is raised.

"I think they are saying education should be a top priority, but they don't necessarily feel the capacity to pay for it out of their pocket," says National Education Association spokesman Dan Kaufman.

In Nevada, for example, voters rejected a ballot question that would have required the state to finance K-12 schools at the national per-pupil rate by 2012. The state ranks 46th in its per-pupil spending of $6,000, which is about $1,500 less than the national average. But voters approved a measure that would require the legislature to pass an education appropriations bill before any other department budgets.

Washington education officials say the defeat of a measure to raise education spending by $1 billion a year by increasing the state sales tax sales tax, levy on the sale of goods or services, generally calculated as a percentage of the selling price, and sometimes called a purchase tax. It is usually collected in the form of an extra charge by the retailer, who remits the tax to the government.  by 1 percent will mean renewed pressure on state legislators for funding.

The defeat of the charter school initiative shows that residents don't want attention diverted di·vert  
v. di·vert·ed, di·vert·ing, di·verts
1. To turn aside from a course or direction: Traffic was diverted around the scene of the accident.

 from the needs of public schools, say some educators there.

In Missouri, which is being sued by several districts within the state for failing to fund schools adequately, voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring money from motor vehicles sales and fuel taxes to be spent on transportation infrastructure.

"We have a great need for the improvement of highways in Missouri, and this was a way to get more money without having to rely on a tax increase," says Associate Education Commissioner Gerri Ogle. "But it shrinks the pot of money available for education."

Ogle says state legislators are now discussing ways to change the education aid formula, which has been under-funded by about $600 million.

David Shreve, senior education committee director for education at the National Conference of State Legislatures
The abbreviation NCSL redirects here. For the British educational institution see National College for School Leadership.

The National Conference of State Legislatures
, says many measures were defeated because taxpayers and state officials are hesitant hes·i·tant  
Inclined or tending to hesitate.

hesi·tant·ly adv.
 to pass more funding mandates.

"Most elected officials like to retain some degree of flexibility when they are doing their budget," Shreve says. "Some of those ballot initiatives can tie their hands."



to funding school districts



to property tax cap that would cut school aid



to financing K-12 schools at the national per-pupil rate



to charter schools



to lottery lottery, scheme for distributing prizes by lot or other method of chance selection to persons who have paid for the opportunity to win. The term is not applicable when lots are drawn without payment by the interested parties to determine some matter, e.g.  revenue for schools
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Title Annotation:Update: education news from schools, businesses, research and government agencies
Author:Silverman, Fran
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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