Sunday, December 02, 2001

GOP fails to reach budget compromise

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Legislative Republicans were unable to reach agreement on a compromise plan to eliminate a projected $1.5 billion state budget deficit.

        Talks among legislative leaders Friday ended with the Senate and the House still $300 million to $400 million apart on their respective versions of the budget, the Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday.

        Legislative staff members may continue working through the weekend in hopes of presenting a final report to a House-Senate conference committee Monday.

        “I think we can get it done by Monday,” House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, said late Friday. “But I don't think it's disastrous if we don't come together over the weekend and we have to put this off for a little while.”

        Senate President Richard Finan, R-Cincinnati, had no comment on the day's events after spending five hours with two key Republican senators and talked with Mr. Householder on the telephone.

        Meeting with Mr. Finan were Senate President Pro Tempore Doug White, R-Manchester, and Sen. Bill M. Harris, R-Ashland.

        Gov. Bob Taft was in telephone contact with Messrs. Finan and Householder, Taft spokesman Joe Andrews said.

        Mr. White and Mr. Harris said it would be up to Mr. Finan, Mr. Householder and Mr. Taft to make a deal this weekend. “You have to whittle and spit together before a deal gets done,” said Mr. White.

        It had been hoped that the six-member conference committee would adopt a compromise budget Monday and send it to the House and Senate for final ratification Tuesday or Wednesday.

        Mr. Finan has said it will be difficult to hold his Republican senators in Columbus beyond Wednesday because they have holiday travel plans. Nothing requires the budget to be balanced until June 30.


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