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Staffer Admits to Error Leaving Abortion Restriction in Budget

United Press International

Grant Miller confesses that he is the Senate staff member who made one of the most embarrassing budget mistakes in memory.

Miller failed to make certain that a controversial abortion restriction was deleted from the Legislature’s version of the new state budget in compliance with the vote of majority Democrats on a two-house budget-writing team.

“I guess . . . it ends up with a staff person who is responsible, and that person is me,” Miller said. “I feel awful. I feel bad because it’s the staff’s job to keep the members out of trouble.”

Unknown to lawmakers at the time, the restriction authored by conservative Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora) remained in the proposed state budget that was sent to Gov. George Deukmejian this month.

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It would forbid use of state family planning money by groups that promote, perform or advertise abortions or benefit from referrals for abortion services. Family planning clinics, which cannot use the money directly for abortions, consider the restriction a major threat because their services often include abortion counseling.

Sen. Alfred E. Alquist (D-San Jose), author of the budget bill, said he has been told that Deukmejian will veto the restriction, on the understanding it was included in the $35.2-billion spending plan by mistake.

But Deukmejian, who later this week must sign the budget for the 1985-86 fiscal year that begins Monday, is under heavy pressure from anti-abortion groups and GOP lawmakers to leave the language intact.

Miller said he has worked eight years for the Senate’s fiscal committee and nine years for the legislative analyst, the Legislature’s budget expert. “So it’s not like it’s my first time out,” he said.

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