Thursday, November 15, 2001

Taft, Finan tangle over budget; full Senate votes on plan today

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Two of the state's top elected officials, both Republicans, clashed Wednesday over proposals to balance a $1.5 billion budget deficit.

        Gov. Bob Taft said Senate lawmakers lacked political courage to enact targeted tax increases on businesses. Senate President Richard Finan said lawmakers, not Mr. Taft, had the guts to stand up for taxpayers.

        A coalition of Ohio churches, meanwhile, accused 13 senators of breaking a campaign pledge to oppose the state's entry into a multistate lottery.

        The GOP-controlled Senate Finance Committee approved the Senate budget plan Wednesday night by an 8-3 vote along party lines.

        The plan includes raising $41 million by joining a multistate lottery, and $223 million more in budget cuts than Mr. Taft's own proposal. The full Senate will vote on the plan today.

        House Speaker Larry Householder, a Glenford Republican, has already announced his opposition to the Senate plan.

        The finance committee rejected proposals by Senate Democrats to restore money to higher education and fund additional biomedical research.

        Mr. Taft said he was disappointed the Senate “couldn't muster the political courage” to enact even one of the tax increases he proposed. The governor calls them tax loopholes that need to be closed.

        Mr. Finan, who strongly opposes any tax increases, said, “I think we're the ones that have guts. We're the ones that are standing up for taxpayers. We're the ones that are standing up to preserve the rainy day fund.

        Mr. Taft wouldn't say whether he would veto a plan that resembled what the Senate proposed. But he said he couldn't support it in its current form.


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