State Journal: Second movement; Wine and fish

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In 1978, Californians fired the first shot in a nationwide grassroots tax-limitation crusade by adopting Proposition 13, a constitutional amendment that rolled back property assessments and strictly limited their future growth.

Now there are signs that the state's voters may have touched off a second nationwide movement last November by passing Proposition 98, an amendment that guarantees the state's schools a set portion of general-fund revenues.

Proposition 98's ripple effect was first seen in Michigan, where Senate Republicans announced in December that they would attempt to place a similar amendment on the 1990 ballot. Leaders of the petition drive say they were influenced by the success of the California proposition.

Last week, the Republican Senate majority leader, John Engler, used his televised response to the Democratic governor's State of the State Address to encourage voters to "help lead the charge" for the proposed amendment.

In addition, Ohio's state school chief recently told the House finance committee that providing education with a fixed percentage of the state budget would help alleviate many school districts' financial problems.

Noting the passage of Proposition 98, Superintendent Franklin Walter said: "If there is an issue on the [Ohio] ballot, that ought to be what it is."

Mr. Walter appeared before the panel to discuss Gov. Richard Celeste's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. During his testimony, he alluded to but did comment directly on the Governor's separate proposal to raise income and corporate taxes by $1.2 billion to create a school-reform "trust fund" that would be controlled by a new, independent board of trustees.

Thus far, Mr. Celeste's proposal, which would require voters to pass a constitutional amendment, has been met with a less-than-enthusiastic response from legislators and key education groups.

But during a recent interview on a Columbus public-television program, he predicted that lawmakers would support it after they "become more familiar with what's involved and understand how it relates to their own desires for change in education."

The reporter conducting the interview asked the Governor if he would be willing to wager a bottle of wine on the plan's fate. Mr. Celeste said he would not because "I wouldn't want to give one up if I should lose."

"But I'll bet you something better," he quickly added. "I'll bet you a fishing day on Kelley's Island," an angler's retreat in Lake Erie.--tm

Vol. 08, Issue 21

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