State Journal: Day care vs. education?; The politics of repoliticization

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Next month, Alabama's governor is expected to present the legislature with the following Hobson's choice: Either reduce aid to education or force cutbacks in the state's day-care program.

Framing the situation in those terms appears to be part of Gov. Guy Hunt's strategy to win support for his plan to "un-earmark" certain tax revenues for the state's school-aid fund and use them to support the general-fund budget.

By using day care as an example of the problem, the Governor seems to have found a political silver lining in a highly publicized dispute he had this month with Andy Hornsby, his director of the state department of human resources.

Apparently without Mr. Hunt's consent, Mr. Hornsby warned a legislative budget committee that if his agency did not receive an additional $5 million in the new fiscal year, he would be forced to reduce the number of children eligible for day-care services from 7,200 to 6,593.

That news prompted Mr. Hunt to tell reporters at a press conference the next day that he would cut Mr. Hornsby's salary first before cutting the day-care program.

At that time, the Governor did not say where he expected to find the funds to keep the program at full strength. Last week, a spokesman for Mr. Hunt said he will urge lawmakers to dedicate less revenue to education and to use the funds for day care and other programs.

In one of its first official acts, Texas's newly reconstituted state board of education voted this month to strip its new chairman of powers that he says he never knew he had.

Gov. William P. Clements, a Republican, named a fellow party member, Monte Hasie, as chairman in December. The rule changes--which removed the chairman's authority to appoint committees and veto agenda items--were proposed by Robert Aikin, a Democratic board member and former state representative.

In an interview last week, Mr. Hasie said he was unaware that the chairman had the authority to veto agenda items, a power evidently abused by a chairman some years ago.

"I don't think there's any question that politics was involved" in the decision to change the rules, he said.

The new, 15-member elected board replaces a gubernatorially appointed panel that existed from 1984 to 1988. Texans had approved the temporary change to the appointive board to insulate it from politics during the implementation phase of the state's school-reform program.

--tm & nm

Vol. 08, Issue 18

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