Calif. Senate Approves Reform Bill
Sacramento--An omnibus education bill that ties $700 million in tax increases to a package of higher standards for public-school students and teachers has cleared the California Senate, but its fate remains uncertain.
The Senate, with six Republicans giving key support to the Democratic majority, approved by a vote of 31 to 5 a finance-reform bill that would give public schools a 10-percent increase next year--$700 million more than Gov. George Deukmejian proposed in his 1983-84 budget.
The Republican Governor promptly said he would veto the bill if it reached his desk with the tax boost intact.
The measure by Senator Gary Hart, a Santa Barbara Democrat, would extend the school day and year, set minimum statewide high-school graduation requirements, gradually increase the starting annual salary of teachers to $18,000, weaken some teacher-employment protections, and link student promo-tion to attendance.
It would also entail increases--some temporary and some permanent--in taxes on general sales, candy, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and banks and corporations.
Mr. Hart said that he thinks his bill is "not that far apart" from a similar finance-reform package, costing $835 million more than the Governor proposed, and moving rapidly under Democratic co-sponsorship in the Assembly.
The assembly bill by Teresa Hughes, a Los Angeles Democrat, underwent intensive negotiations with Republicans--who were pressing for more extensive changes in teacher-employment protection and a different tax package--on its way to the Assembly floor.
There appeared to be agreement in the capitol that Mr. Hart's bill (which has been endorsed by Bill Honig, the state schools superintendent) and Ms. Hughes' bill would reach a conference committee and then face complex negotiations, involving the proposed tax increases, the state budget, and school reforms.