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2nd of 2 Funding Bills for Ala. Reforms Clears Key House Panel

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As the Alabama legislature's regular session draws to a close, the pivotal House Ways and Means Committee last week approved the second of two bills proposed by Gov. James E. Folsom Jr. to fund education reform.

The bills are now in a position to be placed on the House calendar for floor action.

Although the measures have yet to be considered by the Senate, they still have a chance of passing in the few remaining legislative days, a legislative analyst said. Lawmakers were slated to take this week off for spring recess.

In last week's vote, the House panel voted 13 to 2 for a measure that was largely the same as Mr. Folsom's bill to establish a more equitable way of distributing state aid to school districts. (See Education Week, March 16, 1994.)

The panel approved the distribution measure a week after a vote had been delayed, apparently because some legislators were worried about how much money their area's schools would get under the new formula.

The Ways and Means Committee backed the other measure in the two-bill funding package earlier this month. That bill would amend the state constitution to require communities to levy minimum levels of ad valorem property taxes and other taxes.

A state judge, who found Alabama's schools unconstitutional last year, has given the legislature until Sept. 30 to create a fair and adequate funding system for the public schools.

In a related development, negotiations are continuing between a bipartisan group of legislators, the business community, and the Governor's office seeking a compromise on Mr. Folsom's "Alabama First'' education-reform bill.

The Rules Committee has blocked the measure, already approved by the Senate and the House Ways and Means Committee, from House floor consideration since last month.

Mr. Folsom, who has called a special session for April 26, is still interested in "reasonable and amicable compromise'' and is pushing for regular-session action on the reform plan and its funding bills, said Chris Grimshawe, the Governor's press secretary.

Mr. Grimshawe said the Governor will aim to have House floor action on the reform bill after the spring recess.

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