State Journal: Covert funding?; Agenda items

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Texas officials revealed recently that the Republican National Committee spent $400,000 last spring to help defeat a school-finance ballot measure backed by Gov. Ann W. Richards, a Democrat.

The national party's role in the campaign, which amounted to 60 percent of the opponents' funding, was not noted before the election. Top Democrats earlier this month decried the massive contribution as a political effort to deal Governor Richards a defeat--and are apparently making the most of the chance to use the issue to blast Republicans.

Ms. Richards said the national effort "undoubtedly was done for political purposes, not to help the schoolchildren of Texas.''

In the wake of the 2-to-1 defeat of the proposal to pool local property taxes, the legislature met in a hectic session to adopt a new finance plan.

Republicans said the R.N.C. aid was needed to offset a well-financed campaign for a plan many in the party saw as disastrous, and noted that it was not illegal.

"I was less than thrilled'' about the party's role, said Sen. Bill Ratliff, a key Republican who was made head of the committee that drafted the finance plan in an effort to win bipartisan support. "I'm a Republican, and it was my plan.''

Opponents of Gov. James E. Folsom Jr.'s education-reform plan in Alabama apparently thought they were lining up some big guns to testify against it in public hearings last week.

A list of witnesses to testify before the state Senate's education committee in behalf of a rival bill backed by SCORE 100, a conservative education group, included former Vice President Dan Quayle and former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett.

However, when it came time for them to appear, a note slipped to the committee said the two prominent Republicans had been snowed in.

But Mr. Bennett was in Miami at a conference of Empower America, said a spokeswoman at the advocacy group's Washington office. She said she did not think the appearance was confirmed with Mr. Bennett.

Calls to Mr. Quayle's office in Indiana revealed only that he was not in Alabama last week, and SCORE 100 representatives were unavailable for comment.

Mr. Quayle disappointed at least one Montgomery statehouse worker, who said she wanted to get his autograph.--LONNIE HARP & MILLICENT LAWTON

Vol. 13, Issue 18

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