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State Journal: Two strikes; Tax and spend

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The unorthodox nomination of a corporate rescue artist to be California's next state school superintendent died quietly late last month when Sanford Sigoloff withdrew prior to confirmation hearings.

Mr. Sigoloff, best known for his ability to take failing companies like Wickes Furniture and restore them to profitability, apparently felt that opposition from education interest groups was a signal that it was time to cut his losses.

The abandoned nomination marks the second time Gov. Pete Wilson has had to retreat on his choice to fill the unexpired term of Bill Honig, who was convicted last year on felony confict-of-interest charges.

Republicans, who had long desired Mr. Honig's removal, now appear resigned to the reality that there is not sufficient time for Mr. Wilson to appoint a replacement, since California voters will choose a new state superintendent in November.

Indeed, the Association of California School Administrators noted that the short time span was part of their reason for opposing Mr. Sigoloff, saying that "his lack of experience in the complexities of California's public school system will make his short-term appointment more disruptive than helpful.''

Not one to fully bow to pressure from the education lobby, Mr. Wilson appointed Mr. Sigoloff to a four-year term on the state school board, an appointment that is also subject to legislative confirmation.

Two analysts at the Cato Institute, a think tank with a libertarian orientation, recently compiled a "fiscal report card'' rating governors for their level of fiscal restraint.

The rankings by Stephen Moore and Dean Stansel rely on "14 indicators of fiscal performance,'' including per-capita state spending and changes in tax rates.

Three governors received an A for tight-fistedness: Gov. Stephen Merrill of New Hampshire, Gov. Kirk Fordice of Mississippi, and Gov. L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia. Mr. Wilder is a Democrat; the other two are Republicans.

The five governors who rated an F for raising taxes and spending are: Gov. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina, Gov. John Waihee of Hawaii, Gov. James Florio of New Jersey, and Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut.

Mr. Weicker is an independent; the others are Democrats.

Mr. Florio, who was defeated in his re-election bid, raised taxes largely to pay for increases in education spending.

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