WASHINGTON - Dredging up a perennial revenue option, the Clinton administration's 1996 budget will propose charging state banks and bank holding companies for federal exams.

Leading early opposition to the budget proposal, which is due to be released today, America's Community Bankers president Paul A. Schosberg wrote President Clinton on Friday to object.

"This proposal is bad public policy," Mr. Schosberg said, noting that a similar plan was rejected in 1993. "The policy arguments have not changed since then, and there is no reason to believe that the exam fee proposal would be any less controversial this year."

Both the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. have repeatedly resisted campaigns to persuade them to charge for exams. The Clinton budget reportedly projects that the new exam fees could raise $500 million over five years.

"It's obviously very troubling," said James Chessen, the American Bankers Association's chief economist. "The banking industry already pays for exams at the Fed through sterile reserves and pays for the exams at the FDIC through assessments. This would amount to a double tax on the industry."

Currently, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision are the only federal banking agencies that send bills for their services. State regulators also charge exam fees.

Diane M. Casey, executive director of the Independent Bankers Association of America, said piling on federal fees would make a state charter less attractive.

"This could be very disruptive to the dual banking system," Ms. Casey said. "This would place state-chartered banks at a competitive disadvantage."

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