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GORE ADDRESSES STATE LEGISLATURE : VICE PRESIDENT SPEAKS ON EDUCATION; GOP CRITICIZES VISIT.

Byline: Paul Hefner Daily News Sacramento Bureau

In a speech to California lawmakers that was overshadowed by campaign fund-raising furor, Vice President Al Gore on Thursday called for parents to question the way public school districts spend their money.

Gore told a joint session of the state Legislature - minus many Republican lawmakers - that students are hurt because too few tax dollars devoted to education reach the classroom.

``We should be spending public funds on teachers and children and not on excessive overhead and bloated bureaucracies and unnecessary layers of middle management,'' Gore said. ``It is time for parents and others to start asking pointed questions.''

But Republicans were more interested in questioning Gore's motives for coming to the Capitol. After his speech, he attended a luncheon expected to raise up to $100,000 for the state's Democratic Party.

The Republicans criticized Gore for mixing the relatively rare invitation to address California's lawmakers with political glad-handing. The trip comes little more than a week after Gore acknowledged personally soliciting campaign donations from the White House before the 1996 elections.

``I find it offensive that they're using the Capitol as a facade for a full day of fund-raising,'' said Assemblyman Tom McClintock, R-Granada Hills.

McClintock's chair on the Assembly floor was among more than two dozen Republicans whose chairs were empty during Gore's address. Assemblyman Brett Granlund, R-Yucaipa, gave a gallery pass to the event to a stranger he met downtown.

Democrats chided Republicans for boycotting Gore's speech. Assemblyman Kevin Murray, D-Culver City, said conservatives sacrificed a chance to lobby Gore for support for California.

``It's indicative of how they put partisanship over the needs of the state,'' he said.

The last time a president or vice president addressed the California Legislature was when Republican President Gerald Ford gave a speech in 1975. The day was memorable because Lynette ``Squeaky'' Fromme pulled a gun on him as he walked across the Capitol lawn.

During his address Thursday, Gore restated the education agenda President Clinton outlined earlier, focusing on technology, reading volunteers and tax breaks for college tuition.

Gore said he was promoting a ``national blueprint'' to reinvent the way government funded public schools.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO California Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante, left, and state Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer, right, present a ceramic bulldog to U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Gore was in Sacramento on Thursday to address the Legislature.

Associated Press
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 14, 1997
Words:403
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