Assembly Votes to Restore $76.2 Million in State School Aid

Times Staff Writer

The Assembly on Thursday passed legislation to restore $76.2 million in state school aid in a move to thwart Gov. George Deukmejian's effort to force the use of state retirement system funds to pay for education and other programs.

A 53-19 bipartisan vote sent the measure, authored by Assemblywoman Teresa P. Hughes (D-Los Angeles), to the Senate, which previously approved similar legislation that, in effect, would override the governor's veto.

Deukmejian vetoed the funds in hopes of pressuring the Legislature into going along with his proposal to tap investment profits of the Public Employees Retirement System to help finance education and other programs.

But Senate Democrats, led by President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), scuttled Deukmejian's plan.

Now, Assembly and Senate Democrats both contend that recently announced increased state revenues can provide the extra money needed for schools.

"The governor has said that education is one of his highest priorities," Hughes said. "Let's help the governor keep his commitment."

Forty Democrats and 13 Republicans voted for the bill; all 19 negative votes were cast by Republicans.

The $76.2 million includes $53.3 million for kindergarten through 12th-grade programs, including money for economically disadvantaged students and busing students who live in sparsely populated areas.

Another $22.9 million is earmarked for community colleges to make up for declining enrollment aid. The bill also specifies that the Los Angeles Community College District must reinstate its vocational nursing program as a condition of receiving the extra money.

State tax collections were $466 million higher than expected in January, but the Administration argues that much of this increase could be temporary, created by incentives under the old federal tax law for high-income taxpayers to pay their taxes early.

If the gain is permanent, however, the additional revenues could ease the money pinch that led to the 1986 school aid cuts.

The Assembly also on Thursday passed a slightly different school aid bill by Senate Majority Floor Leader Barry Keene (D-Benicia). A 57-15 vote sent it back to the upper house for consideration of Assembly changes. The Keene bill, along with Hughes' measure--representing the official Assembly proposal--likely will wind up in a two-house conference committee.

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