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California Legislature Fails To Resolve Issue of Impounded Education Funds

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The California legislature has adjourned without resolving its standoff with Gov. George Deukmejian over $462 million impounded by the Governor from the education budget.

Lawmakers had sought to restore most of the funds, for essentially unrestricted use by school districts, while Mr. Deukmejian had favored releasing only a portion of the money, primarily for the purpose of reducing class sizes. The two sides were unable to reach a compromise before the legislature adjourned early on the morning of Sept. 1.

The legislature did pass a bill restoring a total of $12.4 million for the California Assessment Program and other programs. The Governor had vetoed that spending outright, on the grounds that it was not protected by Proposition 98, a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing minimum levels of education spending.

The measure, sponsored by Senator John R. Garamendi, a Democrat, passed by votes of 22 to 10 in the Senate and 42 to 19 in the Assembly. But observers said it probably would be vetoed by the Republican Governor.

In addition, a Senate-Assembly conference committee failed to take action on a bill that would have restored $355 million in impounded funds to the education budget. The money would have covered a 4.9 percent increase for salaries and operating expenses, as opposed to the 3 percent increase Mr. Deukmejian had allowed for in making his spending cuts.

Meanwhile, Governor Deukmejian and State Controller Gray Davis remained at loggerheads last week over Mr. Davis's decision to defy Mr. Deukmejian and send school districts payments from the impounded education appropriations.

In other action before adjourning for the year, the legislature gave final approval to a bill to require that all middle- and high-school students receive aids education.

Under the measure, students would have to take aids-prevention classes at least once in both middle school and high school. Parents who objected could remove their children from the classes.

But the Governor has vetoed similar measures three times in as many years.

Also passed but facing a possible veto was a bill establishing a savings-bond program for college expenses. (See story, page 16.)

Lawmakers rejected a proposal to amend the state constitution to allow local bonds for school construction to be approved by a simple majority of voters, instead of the two-thirds vote now required.

Proposition 13, the landmark property-tax-limitation measure approved by state voters in 1978, requires a two-thirds majority for local bond issues.

The Assembly bill passed by a 43-to-28 vote--short of the required two-thirds majority.

Also defeated was an effort to reverse recent changes in what students in the state are taught about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

On a 60-to-4 vote, the Assembly rejected a measure introduced by Assemblyman Gil Ferguson, who argued that lawmakers had falsely rewritten history a year ago when they ordered schools to teach that Japanese-Americans were unjustly sent to "concentration camps."

Mr. Ferguson, a World War II veteran, sought to have children taught that Japanese-Americans were sent to "centers," not concentration camps, and that their internment was justified on military grounds.

--ps & ef

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