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Honig Decides Not To Toss His Hat Into the Gubernatorial Ring

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Bill Honig, California's superintendent of public instruction, has put an early end to speculation that he would be running for the governorship in 1990.

The popular state schools chief announced at a press conference Nov. 30 that he would instead seek reelection to a third term in order to oversee implementation of Proposition 98, the constitutional amendment passed by voters last month that establishes a minimum state-funding level for education.

Amassing the necessary funds to run a viable gubernatorial campaign would require virtually a full-time commitment over the next year and a half, he said, and would prevent him from continuing as an active school-reform leader.

"We're at a critical place in the whole effort to improve schools in California," he said in an interview last week. "This job is too important to walk away from."

In return for voter support for Proposition 98, he said, "we told them we'd give them first-rate schools."

"All of the things we've done are trying to bear fruit, but we're not there yet in California," he added.

Mr. Honig's announcement was widely covered in the state's media. He had been considered a front-runner among potential gubernatorial candidates since he changed his voter registration from Independent to Democrat last June.

The passage of Proposition 98 also removed one of the primary motivations behind Mr. Honig's consideration of a bid for the state's highest office, he said, be4cause it reduced the "frustration about insufficent state funding for education."

The schools chief estimated that the legislature would be required under Proposition 98 to appropriate upwards of $200 million in additional funding for K-12 education during the current fiscal year. But he said disputes over the impact of the amendment could delay distribution of the money until the next budget year.

Among the issues still to be resolved, according to Mr. Honig, is how the state's community colleges and K-12 system will split the additional funding called for under the amendment, and how the K-12 share will be divided between specific state-mandated programs and unrestricted aid to schools.

The more significant impact of Proposition 98 will be felt in the longer term, he said, because school districts will be able to engage in long-term planning based on relatively stable projections of state support.--ws

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