State Journal: Fund fight's fallout; Enlisting an 'army'

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Although it was decisively defeated by the voters in November, a Michigan ballot initiative to increase the sales tax to benefit the schools is still making political waves.

Republicans in the state Senate have launched an investigation of the financial activities of the committee organized to support the initiative, known as Proposition A.

The gop-led Government Operations Committee voted last month to subpoena three advocates of the initiative, as part of an investigation into allegations that some of the funds of the Proposition A campaign had been illegally diverted to individual candidates in order to "buy" their support for the plan.

Democratic lawmakers, however, portray the panel's inquiry as a partisan "witch hunt." Those subpoenaed are allies of the state's Democratic Governor, James J. Blanchard, while the chairman of the Senate committee, John M. Engler, is a potential Republican challenger to Mr. Blanchard in the fall.

The investigation suffered a setback early this month, when Attorney General Frank J. Kelley ruled that the Senate panel did not have the legal authority to compel testimony from the three Proposition A backers.

Republicans have said that they will take the issue to court if the witnesses decline to testify voluntarily.

A leading candidate to be Oregon's next schools chief has vowed to enlist an "army" in support of revamping the state's school-finance system.

Norma Paulus, who was the Republican nominee for Governor in 1986, recently launched her campaign for the state superintendency with a call for increasing the state's share of educational spending to 50 percent from 30 percent.

Ms. Paulus made clear, though, that if she is elected in November she will not rely just on the power of her office to get her idea through the legislature.

She said she would spend the next year recruiting some 500 volunteers to descend on the Capitol early next year to press lawmakers to adopt her proposal.

To fund the additional state spending, Ms. Paulus suggested a variety of potential revenue sources, including the state's public-employee retirement fund, lottery, and motor-vehicle registration system.

Ms. Paulus also pointed to the now-maturing generation of trees in the Tillamook Burn, a vast area of the state that was devastated by a forest fire in 1933.

The state, rather than counties, should get more of the income from harvesting the area, she said, since "it was our work, our credit, and our money that paid for it."--hd

Vol. 09, Issue 17

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