Tuesday, May 23, 2000
Ohio Legislature enters home stretch
Estate tax cut, schools on agenda
By John McCarthy
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS Lawmakers spent Monday preparing for the Legislature's final week before summer recess, with estate tax cuts and help for school construction topping the list in the House.
The House Finance and Appropriations Committee scheduled a hearing for Monday night to consider those two issues and other bills. The committee hoped to move the legislation to the full House today, with floor votes planned for Wednesday. The Senate, after considerable debate, passed both bills last week.
Meanwhile, Gov. Bob Taft renewed his request for the Legislature to free up $100 million from the projected year-end surplus. That would be for legislation that may arise from the Ohio Supreme Court's May 11 ruling that the state's school funding formula is unconstitutional. The court ruled the formula relies too heavily on property taxes.
The school construction bill would make it easier for school districts that need immediate help, but do not yet qualify for state aid, to begin repairs and construction with local money. Any local money raised would be counted toward the local matching money each district must raise to qualify for state programs. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Robert Cupp, a Lima Republican.
The estate tax bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert Latta, a Bowling Green Republican, was all that remained of plans to cut that tax and property taxes.
Senate President Richard Finan, a Cincinnati Republican, shelved plans for permanent property tax cuts after the Ohio Supreme Court ruling. Mr. Finan said the ruling made it impossible for lawmakers to consider permanent tax cuts now.
House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, however, said discussions in the House centered on a number of issues involving temporary or permanent cuts in property or income taxes, as well as the proposed estate tax cut.
I don't think it's any different or any clearer than it was last week, said Ms. Davidson, a Reynoldsburg Republican.
Under Mr. Latta's bill, Ohioans would keep more of what their family member or loved one leaves behind. The state would take its 36 percent share of the tax only on estates worth more than $675,000, the current federal exemption. The state now takes a share on estates worth more than $25,000.
Counties and municipalities would continue to collect their 64 percent share of the tax.
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