The nation's governors adopted a long list of resolutions yesterday on subjects as varied as the Olympics and overseas business bribes, but the $6.9 billion federal revenue-sharing program was clearly the issue-closest to their hearts.
They want the program extended, with the one-third share that goes to state governments kept intact. And they do not want any new federal strings attached to the money.
The governors inveighed against a White House proposal to include state and local government coordinating commissions in the program, which the governors charged would allow local government officials to veto and hamstring the state.
Gov. Richard A. Snelling (R-Vt.) labeled the scheme "asinine" Monday and there was virtual unanimity from governors of both parties that they don't like it.
James Thompson (R-Ill.) warned that Congress might chop out big chunks of the $6.9 billion in revenue sharing in a desperate search for a budget-balancing "quick fix" unless the governors keep heavy lobbying pressure on their delegations.
Otherwise, he said, "Talk about beating a dead horse -- the dead horse may be us."
Charles Thone (R-Neb.) said that without heavy lobbying, the one-third for the states would be "down the drain."
The governors, wrapping up a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association, adopted a number of resolutions on other issues.
They endorsed the call for an Olympics boycott by the United States. They called for a stepped-up gasohol program, including its use in government cars.
They called for removal of the $6.2 billion ceiling on federal food stamp outlays, lest the program, estimated to cost $8.7 billion this year, be forced to shut down for lack of funds. They said states should administer federal subsidies to the poor for heating and energy costs.
They endorsed the idea of letting utilities charged consumers for the cost of converting power plants to coal even before the plants begin to produce the new power. (At present, such changes in many cases can be imposed only after the power is put on the line.)
As a step toward a North American common market, they called for a U.S.-Mexico-Canada council to serve as forum for developing policies for economic cooperation.
And they proposed new policy to unshackle American exporters. Advisory opinions by the Justice Department on whether proposed trade actions might violate antitrust or corrupt practices laws, the governors said, should be made binding. In this way, a firm that went ahead with trade and foreign payments on the basis of the advisory opinion would not be liable to prosecution or civil penalties later.
Under the White House revenue-sharing proposal, the state-local commissions would have a 9-8 local government majority. According to the governors, this would enable the local government units to hamstring the state governments and coerce concessions out of them. Led by Harry Hughes (D-Md.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the governors negotiated with White House aide Stuart Eizenstat Monday night to get the White House to back off. Hughes said yesterday he felt the dicussion was "fruitful" but Eizenstat made clear earlier he had not made any commitments.