State Journal: No deal; Of the people

December 06, 1989 2 min read

An unusual promise by Gov. Henry Bellmon of Oklahoma to three Republican legislators apparently played a key role in winning House approval of a major education-reform bill last month.

Mr. Bellmon insists that the understanding with his fellow members of the gop--who provided a crucial margin of support for the controversial measure--was not a “deal.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Bellmon’s written commitment to veto the final version of the bill if it contained provisions that were unacceptable to the three has generated considerable controversy in the Sooner State.

The understanding came about when it became clear that the version of the reform bill that had emerged from committee was in trouble in the House.

Speaker of the House Steve Lewis, a Democrat and the chief sponsor of the bill, worked to shore up support, in the process agreeing to dilute several tax-raising and other provisions.

As the crucial vote neared, however, Mr. Lewis made clear that he needed more votes and might adjourn the session immediately if he did not get them.

At that point, according to Mr. Bellmon’s spokesman, the Governor, the Speaker, and the Republican legislators met and worked out an agreement stating that, “if during the legislative process the bill becomes encumbered with amendments which are offensive to the three, it will be vetoed when it reaches the Governor’s desk.”

Mr. Bellmon said later that, because his views are similar to those of the legislators, it is unlikely that he might be put in the position of having to veto a bill he personally favored.

Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York has joined with the growing number of U.S. educators who are working to spread the principles of American democracy to fast-changing Eastern Europe.

Mr. Cuomo last month announced plans for a new book, to be published in Polish and English editions, explaining Abraham Lincoln’s views on democracy.

The publishing venture began last summer, when Mr. Cuomo told a visiting delegation of teachers from Poland’s Solidarity movement that a good way to study self-government would be to read President Lincoln on the subject.

After learning that there was no book on exactly that topic in English--not to speak of Polish--Mr. Cuomo and his aides got together with a group of scholars to assemble a selection of Lincoln’s writings on the democratic philosophy.

The resulting book is to be released by a major publishing house next fall.--hd

A version of this article appeared in the December 06, 1989 edition of Education Week as State Journal: No deal; Of the people