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Too late

Now is not the time to force a solution to the school funding mess

One more time, let's be clear about what lawmakers will be voting on when they reconvene today to take up the governor's vetoes of budget-balancing legislation.

While we understand the convictions of those who want to force the Legislature to fix the school funding mess properly, it's important to realize one thing: At this point, a vote to uphold the vetoes is a vote to force further cuts on an already reeling school system.

Those who support Gov. John Kitzhaber's vetoes favor asking voters to approve an income tax surcharge to make up the lost revenue.

The reality is, legislators are not about to vote for a tax increase that would appear on the same ballot as their re-elections. And even if they did, voters would be highly unlikely to go along, in our view.

If the vetoes are upheld, lawmakers will simply adjourn and go home, to return once more to make additional cuts in the state budget. Those cuts would invetiably hit schools.

A permanent fix for school funding won't come until after the 2003 Legislature convenes in January. It is imperative that lawmakers rise to that challenge, but now is not the time.

Whatever the failings of our representatives in Salem ' and those failings are legion ' what's done is done, and forcing a fix now will only make things worse.

More cuts are on the way in any case, after the new state revenue forecast comes out. Reports indicate that forecast will show at least an additional &

36;175 million shortfall, and perhaps &

36;200 million to &

36;300 million.

That will mean yet another special session, and still more cuts.

The Legislature should leave bad enough alone, override the vetoes and wait for the next installment of bad news.

Lawmakers should convene the 2003 session with a determination to make sure this situation never arises again.

OLCC was right

The state liquor commission's decision to ban minors from dancing nude in state bars makes sense ' even though the new law may face some court challenges

If you can't drink in a bar you shouldn't be allowed to take off your clothes and dance in one.

That seems clear enough. But civil libertarians may take a shot at the law. It raises the potential for a lawsuit on grounds that the rule allows some forms of free expression and not others.

The change also requires that night spots apply for special permission if they want to hire underage musicians or other workers during business hours.

The law passed following months of debate between free speech advocates and people appalled by high school students, unable to sit in a bar, performing nude for strangers in that same bar.

Such an arrangement makes no sense, and it is proper that the state Liquor Control Commission has taken action to end it.