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In one of several state primaries last week, Gov. Stephen Merrill of New Hampshire easily defeated a challenger whose main campaign issue was education finance to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Fred Bramante, a businessman, had challenged Mr. Merrill primarily to attract attention to his proposal for a statewide property tax to replace a funding system that the state courts have declared unconstitutional. State Sen. Wayne King, who also backs a statewide tax, ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and will face Mr. Merrill, who opposes major tax changes. (See Education Week, Sept. 7, 1994.)

Education finance was also an issue in the Arizona primary, in which Republican challenger Barbara Barrett argued that the state should enact a statewide tax to fund education in the wake of a state court ruling that struck down part of that state's finance system.

However, she was defeated by Gov. Fife Symington, who said his plan for a capital-improvement fund would suffice and pointed to this year's enactment of school-reform legislation. The Governor had tried to pass a school bill for several years, and succeeded only after dropping a controversial voucher program that included private schools.

Eddie Basha, a businessman, won the Democratic nomination.

The only incumbent to lose last week was Gov. Bruce Sundlun of Rhode Island, who was hurt by a weak economy and personal scandals. He was defeated soundly by state Sen. Myrth York, who will face prosecutor Lincoln Almond in the general election.

In other primary elections:

  • State Sen. George Pataki easily won the Republican nomination to face Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York in November.
  • Democrat William Curry, a former Connecticut state controller, and Republican John Rowland, a former U.S. representative, won their parties' nominations. The November ballot will also include Lieut. Gov. Eunice Groark, representing A Connecticut Party, the party formed by Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, who is retiring.
  • Gov. Arne Carlson of Minnesota fended off a challenge from Allen Quist to win the Republican nomination. Mr. Quist, a religious conservative, won national attention by capturing the state party's endorsement. State Sen. John Marty won the Democratic nomination.
  • Ellen Sauerbrey, the minority leader in the Maryland House, upset U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley to win the Republican nomination for governor. She will face Democrat Parris Glendening, a county executive.
  • David Kelley, a lawyer, won the G.O.P. nomination to face Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

No Tax Vote

A Missouri appeals court has ruled that a $310 million tax hike to fund public schools does not have to be approved by voters.

The state legislature enacted a 1993 finance-reform law that requires voter approval for certain tax increases. State officials said the current tax hike does not qualify, and the appeals court agreed.

But opponents of the tax increase said the state Supreme Court could still require officials to place a referendum question on the November ballot.

The finance law is itself in legal limbo. It included language requiring a statewide vote to approve the new system in the event that the Supreme Court failed to uphold a lower court's decision declaring the old system unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that it didn't have the jurisdiction to make such a ruling because Cole Circuit Court Judge Byron Kinder had not yet declared the case closed.

Vol. 14, Issue 03

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