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First hurdle licked; postal chiefs clear way for a 32-cent stamp

If all goes as planned, first-class stamps will cost 32 cents starting early next year.

The U.S. Postal Board of Governors approved a proposal Tuesday to increase the price of a 29-cent first-class stamp by 10.3 percent in 1995.

The plan, announced by Postmaster General Marvin Runyon and the postal board's chairman, J. Sam Winters, is part of an increase on all postal rates. Among other increases, the cost of sending a postcard would go from 19 to 21 cents.

The proposal now goes before the independent Postal Rate Commission, which is expected to hold hearings and make a decision within 10 months.

The proposed increase, the smallest the Postal Service has requested in 25 years, is two points below the rate of inflation over the last four years, Runyon said. In fact, postal rates have remained fairly constant if adjusted for inflation over the last 20 years.

The cost of a first-class stamp in 1971 would be 29 cents in today's dollars. The cost, adjusted for inflation, has remained about 30 or 31 cents most years since then, except for a peak of 35 cents in the mid-70s.

The last increase _ to 29 cents from 25 _ took effect in February 1991.

_ Information from New York Times, AP and staff writer Bill Adair was used.

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