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STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE CALVIN L. RAMPTON
GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF UTAH
AND THE NATIONAL GOVERNORS' CONFERENCE
BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
UNITED STATES SENATE
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you
today representing the Education Commission of the States and the National
As I feel a discussion of the issues pending before
this subcommittee will be more useful than a lengthy monologue, I will make
this prepared statement very brief, and, I hope, concise.
On August 1, 1973, Representative Tom Jensen from Tennessee appeared
before this committee representing ECS and the National Legislative
Conference to address issues manifested in the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act, and the several bills which have been introduced to amend
and modify that legislation. Since that time, the Education Commission of
the States staff with the involvement of a number of governors, state
legislators and other state officials, have devoted further attention to
the development of recommendations for modification of existing Federal
education programs in the elementary and secondary education area.
efforts have been further focused by the Education Subcommittee of the
House Education and Labor Committee reporting a bill which contains a
number of the ideas suggested in Representative Jensen's testimony. A
discussion of school finance must include specific recognition of categorical Federal aid and its impact on state and local governments.
will be addressed to this relationship and suggest that reform of school
finance systems cannot be carried out properly by the states without modifi
cation of Federal programs.
Mr. Chairman, the primary issue in school finance today is what the
states are doing or are going to do about equalization in the wake of the
ECS and the Governors' Conference have long taken the
position that increased state aid and involvement in school finance to insure
equality of educational opportunity in elementary and secondary education is
both good educational policy and morally right.
In keeping with this objective,
the National Governors' Conference has gone on to add that state action to
achieve equal educational opportunity must begin immediately, progress
rapidly and have the aggressive leadership of elected officials in state
The Governors believe that while a number of alternative finance
systems are available to the states in this endeavor, states must focus on
one primary objective
the elimination of local wealth as the major
determinant in educational opportunity.
I don't believe anyone fully understands the complexity of the problem
and has adequate information on the diverse finance systems which exist
throughout the 50 states.
We are now in the process of trying to gather
such information and compile it in a manner which will assist governors and
legislators in addressing the issues involved in equalization legislation
and also to assist the Congress and officials of the Executive Branch at the
Federal level in understanding the situation.
The essential point that I would like to make is that Federal aid to
education, whether categorical in character with specific guidelines or
administered with considerable state discretion, must mesh with state school
finance systems in order that Federal assistance does not distort opportunities
and priorities at the state and local level.
This is particularly true where
a state has adopted a school finance system which recognizes the higher costs
of meeting the educational needs of those students who are given special
attention by Federal programs (i.e., the disadvantaged, handicapped, etc.).
This committee has before it several bills addressed specifically to the
need for increased state funding, property tax relief, and equalization.
These include S. 1900 introduced by Senator Javits and S. 1539 introduced by
Both would provide financial incentives to states to reform
school finance systems to bring about a more uniform pattern of expenditures
among local agencies.
Both of these, however, seem to view equalization as
a desirable goal to be achieved through the provision of a new Federal program alongside existing categorical programs rather than the means for developing
a comprehensive and consolidated fiscal relationship between the Federal
government and the states which is responsive to the educational needs of all
As effective equalization legislation is adopted by more and more
states, the ability of local districts with substantial numbers of economi
cally disadvantaged children to finance the education of those children will
Where state law goes beyond financial equalization to provide
special financial assistance to meet the higher costs of compensatory educa
tion and special education, this fact must be recognized by the Congress in
the way Federal aid is provided. Ultimately, state finance systems which
contain these factors should be the vehicle for most, if not all, Federal
assistance which should, under these circumstances go to the states on an
We are in a period of rapid change.
Within the last two years,
substantial efforts toward increased state funding equalization of educa
tional expenditures have been taken in a number of states.
At this point I
would like to insert into the record a fairly detailed description of how
seven states have achieved or attempted reforms in their education finance
systems (Attachment A). I will not read this material, but would hope that
it be included in the record.
Most other state legislatures will face the
school finance issue in their next sessions.
Because the picture is not
uniform, it is not feasible to consider a total consolidation of existing
programs at the present time, and to be totally realistic, it does not appear
likely that substantial additional Federal money will be forthcoming to
promote increased state funding and equalization.
Reform of school finance systems, nevertheless, is proceeding state by
state and will continue to do so with or without Federal assistance.
can be done by the Congress at this time is to shape existing Federal education
programs for elementary and secondary education to facilitate and assist and
encourage this process.
We would suggest to you that this can be achieved
through a 4-point strategy.
First, existing categorical programs should be
consolidated into functional areas with broader discretion at the state level
and fewer Federal controls.
This is badly needed in all states if we are to
deal with problems rather than simply produce paper. Secondly, the impediments
to reform of state school finance systems which are contained in Federal
programs should be eliminated. Thirdly, total consolidation of Federal aid in
the form of block grants to states should be permitted for those states which
have school finance systems which meet certain minimum standards. Finally,
we should all continue to work together over the next few years to develop
97-457 0 - 73 - pt. 5 - 2
more tangible and accurate information about the true state of school finance
in the country with particular reference to the development of cost and need
indices with a view toward further revision of Federal aid.
this strategy we make the following specific suggestions:
1. Compensatory education.
Aid for disadvantaged children under Title I
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) should be continued.
school districts should be free to allocate funds to individual schools on the
basis of low-income families or according to educational needs except that when
a state has a statewide testing program local agencies shall use educational
needs for allocation.
States should be required to submit to the U. S.
Commissioner of Education a state plan acceptable to the Governor and approved
through graduate and continuing education by consolidating parts A to H of the
Vocational Education Amendments of 1963 and the Smith-Hughes Act, and insure
cooperative planning with state higher or post-secondary education by
implementing Title X-13 of the Education Amendments of 1972.
develop a career education plan approved in accordance with state law. Emphasis
should be on articulating and coordinating vocational or occupational education
programs with academic programs as much as possible, including greater emphasis
in academic programs on career development.
3. Exceptional children.
Consolidate Part B of the Education of the
Handicapped Act and the handicapped set-asides from the Vocational Education
Act and from Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
(ESEA) into a comprehensive program for exceptional children, both the handicapped