Parents and community leaders who support more money for public education are gathering signatures on petitions. They plan to have "relays" starting January fourth to gather more signatures and take the petitions to the state Capitol.
Organizers say they hope to have a news conference January 11 to present the petitions to legislators. That event will happen one week into the three-month 2005 session in which a tight state budget is expected to dominate all other discussion.
Legislative leaders have set a $3.8 billion estimate for how much money will be available to spend in the fiscal year that starts next July 1. That's an increase of over $107 million over the current year's budget, but the growth won't come close to covering the estimated $500 to 900 million in new spending requests by state agencies.
That leaves lawmakers with tough choices of either making deep cuts in programs or raising taxes or doing a bit of both.