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State Journal: Laying blame; Betting on gambling

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Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey and the state's commissioner of education, Leo Klagholz, have not been popular in education circles since last month's school elections.

Many educators blame the Governor for the defeat of nearly half the school budgets up for a vote by local taxpayers--the worst trouncing since 1976.

Critics charge that Mrs. Whitman, through statements and policy positions, urged voters to note their opposition to tax increases at the polls.

Immediately after the results were in, Commissioner Klagholz issued a statement indicating that he would not be inclined to overrule the voters, which he has the power to do if districts appeal to him.

"Districts must approach their budget development with an eye to long-term efficiencies to accommodate the continued reduction in financial resources,'' said Mr. Klagholz.

Now the New Jersey Education Association and its allies are hoping to persuade the legislature to take a more critical look at the Governor's proposed budget cuts.

Louisiana teachers are watching closely the battle over a new casino due to open in New Orleans. A proposed pay hike for the educators hinges on a deal between the developers and state officials that could be in jeopardy.

Gov. Edwin W. Edwards recently told the legislature to put his teacher-pay proposal on hold, then reversed himself a few days later.

In a speech to lawmakers, Mr. Edwards said that Attorney General Richard Ieyoub had made "the wrong decision'' in reopening bidding on the state's first land-based casino, which was set to open in August. He insinuated that Mr. Ieyoub had political motives, a charge Mr. Ieyoub has denied.

Mr. Ieyoub last month recommended that the state rebid the contract because plans for the casino were "fundamentally different'' from when the bid was accepted.

To fund a 5 percent salary hike for school employees, Mr. Edwards was counting on the $125 million that the original bidders had agreed to pay the state within 10 days after opening the casino. The state is also to receive annual shares of casino revenue.

The chairman of the casino board, Max Chastain, said that any delay in collecting the funds will be determined by how many bidders come forward by the May 20 deadline.
--KAREN DIEGMUELLER & LYNN SCHNAIBERG

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