JOHN ENGLER was born in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and grew up in Beal City. He earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Michigan State University in 1970 and a law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1985. Prior to his first term as governor, he served for 20 years in the state legislature, including seven years as senate majority leader. Improving education was the top priority of his administration, and a focus on high standards, more accountability, and strengthened local control helped student test scores climb to record highs. State and local funding for public elementary and secondary schools increased nearly 80 percent, from $7.9 billion in 1990 to $14.1 billion in 2002. Governor Engler led the fight to enact Proposal A, a landmark 1994 ballot initiative that cut school property taxes by more than 80 percent and created a portable foundation grant for each student that dramatically reduced the disparity in funding among school districts. His welfare strategy to require work and remove the barriers to employment helped 300,561 families leave welfare rolls for private payrolls and independence. During the 1990s, tax cuts saved families and businesses nearly $20 billion and helped create nearly 831,000 jobs. Governor Engler transformed state government by cutting spending, reducing bureaucracy, reorganizing state government and setting new priorities. State government, excluding public safety personnel, is nearly 23 percent smaller. He is the past chair of the National Education Goals Panel, the Council of Great Lakes Governors, and the Republican Governors Association.