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Oklahomans opted for the status quo last week and defeated a ballot proposal that would have eliminated annual elections serving as referendums on the property-tax levies that support schools.

State Question 659 was turned down by 118,799 votes to 93,839, according to unofficial results provided by the state election board.

The measure would have turned millage-assessment authority over to local school boards.

But voters chose to retain the right to go to the polls each year to elect school board members and decide whether to approve 20 mills of property taxes for schools, a flat rate that is set statewide. Another 24 mills are levied without voter approval.

Educators had campaigned to eliminate annual school elections, arguing that they entail unnecessary cost and draw only a small percentage of voters. They also noted that the existing system leaves unclear what would happen if a town repeatedly refused to approve needed taxes.

Budgetary Politics: In what seems to have become an annual event, legislative passage of Iowa's state education budget has been derailed by partisan politics.

Gov. Terry E. Branstad, a Republican, had called for an increase in the education budget of 2.5 percent, or $38.3 million.

The Democrat-controlled Senate upped the proposed increase to $46.5 million after members argued that the state can afford the increase because its financial condition has improved.

Members of the Republican-controlled House, however, asserted that lawmakers traditionally promise more for schools than the state can deliver. In the name of fiscal responsibility, they proposed only a 2.1 percent, or $31.7 million, funding boost.

As of last week, the measure was back in the Senate, whose leaders were vowing to keep education a top funding priority.

Ultimately, the legislature is expected to agree on a budget close to what Mr. Branstad first proposed.

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