Tuesday, May 23, 2000

3-way talk would be Ohio first




By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and state legislative leaders may be scratching their heads over an unusual proposal for a summit with the Ohio Supreme Court on school funding, but they haven't slammed the door shut.

        Last week, Justice Alice Robie Resnick suggested that the seven justices sit down with Mr. Taft and legislative leaders to talk about replacing the school funding system that she and a court majority have declared unconstitutional.

        The governor and legislative leaders said they had some concerns about whether such a meeting would blur the constitutional lines between the judicial, executive and legislative branches. But they haven't ruled out the idea.

        “The governor has pledged to meet with anyone to help find a solution to this,” said Taft spokesman Scott Milburn.

        Mr. Milburn said that when the governor first heard about the Resnick proposal last week, “he didn't know quite how to react. This is something that has never been proposed before.”

        A summit among the three branches of state government on what is now a legislative matter — finding a new funding formula — would be unprecedented.

        Ohio Senate President Richard Finan, R-Evendale, said that while he thinks such a meeting is “unlikely,” the unusual nature of it shouldn't necessarily prevent it.

        “I've been thinking about the judicial propriety of this, but, really, why should I?” Mr. Finan said. “If it doesn't bother (Justice Resnick), why should it bother me?”

        Justice Resnick could not be reached for comment Monday.

        The Resnick proposal came as the justice continued to take heat from political opponents, who say she and the rest of the court majority are forcing the legislature into raising taxes.

        Andrew Doehrel, Ohio Chamber of Commerce president and a persistent Resnick critic, called the summit proposal “as ridiculous as the ruling itself. It is bizarre. It is blatantly political. The court majority seems to be acting as some kind of super-legislature.”

        Mr. Finan said his concern would be whether it was proper for the court to meet outside the courtroom to discuss a pending case with only one side of the case.

        The Ohio Senate president said that he would likely discuss Justice Resnick's suggestion today with Mr. Taft and Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, R-Reynoldsburg.

        William Phillis, director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Ade quacy of School Funding, the organization that brought the original lawsuit challenging Ohio's school funding system, said his group wants to have a part in coming up with a solution to the school funding problem.

        The suggestion by Justice Resnick of a meeting with the governor and legislators, Mr. Phillis said, was “probably born out of frustration. She obviously wants to see something happen.”

        Justice Resnick, a Toledo Democrat who is running for re-election this year, wrote the court's 4-3 majority opinion earlier this month. For the second time, it declared the state's school funding formula unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on property taxes.

        In effect, the court ordered the state to reduce property taxes to narrow the gap between poor and rich districts. While state officials have left the door open to raising sales or income taxes, Mr. Taft and Ms. Davidson have said attempt to increase school funding should begin with the state's surplus money.

       



Stadium overseer got $1M in private
Prosecutor says city blew case
PULFER: Quick fix needed for preschool
Windsock suspected in Air Care crash
Councilman faces vote fraud charges
Light turnout expected for Ky. primary
SAMPLES: Charity walkers pay to park
- 3-way talk would be Ohio first
Schools budget assumes levy vote
CHCA, McAuley among the best
Council still not sure about Nordstrom
Banks plan moving forward; county ready to issue bonds
Dyslexic kids learn thorugh phonics
More help for dyslexic students
Olympic hero shares life's thrills, spills
Pig Parade: Sow Spring
Shriver offers plain advice
KNIPPENBERG: Bashful men lured into opera
Chamber choir's jewel perfectly set in Cathedral
GET TO IT
Queen City's moments to shine reflected in book
Around the Commonwealth
Bristol's opposed to zoning plan
Bush stresses literacy today in Columbus
Covington faces school woes
Deadbeat dad's bond set at $180K
Edgewood rejects EMS bike plan
Electric rate hike expected
Ex-deputy tossed from sheriff race
Fairfield weighs test incentives
Holcomb to pursue tax flap
Kennedy stumps here for Baesler
Lockland park gets new life
Maifest presents minimal trouble
Mason named a Tree City USA
Middletown makes it easier to reach officials
New Norwood fire pumper limits water damage
Newport angles for Golden Corral on U.S. 27 site
Ohio Legislature enters home stretch
Panel hammers at bill
Student store a lesson for young entrepreneurs
Tristate Digest