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Michigan Senate Kills School-Finance Bill

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Michigan lawmakers and education lobbyists were trying to resuscitate a school-finance and tax-reform measure late last week following its defeat in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bill was rejected by a vote of 21 to 14 on March 8, with three Democrats not voting and 26 votes needed for passage. A motion to reconsider the measure failed by a vote of 22 to 14, with two Democrats withholding their votes. A total of 12 Republicans voted to pass the bill.

The measure, which had been passed by the House, would have raised the sales tax from 4 cents to 6 cents, and would have provided communities with varying degrees of4property-tax relief. If the Senate had passed the measure, it would have gone to the state's voters for their approval on May 16.

Key legislators and spokesmen for education groups said it was pos8sible that the bill could be revived if a deal could be struck to give more favorable treatment to school districts with high property values and relatively high per-pupil spending.

Opposition from lawmakers representing such districts, however, was only one of the factors that led to the bill's demise. Other reasons cited included opposition from the Democratic Governor, James J. Blanchard; the bill's complexity; doubts that voters would approve the sales-tax increase; and the fact that the bill would have eliminated many aspects of the Headlee Amendment, a provision in the state constitution that limits growth in state and local taxes and spending.--tm

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