Thursday, February 13, 2003

House approves taxes-free budget fix

By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The House on Wednesday passed a $566 million budget bailout without including tax increases on cigarettes and alcohol sought by Gov. Bob Taft.

Taft said he was disappointed that the House had approved an "incomplete plan" to remove the deficit his administration pegs at $720 million by the end of the fiscal year June 30.

The House vote was 68-31, with six Democrats joining majority Republicans in favor of the plan. It was the first time in two years that a budget bill received any Democratic votes.

It now goes to the Senate, which has begun hearings in its Finance Committee. Taft has said he needs the bill on his desk by Feb. 20 to ensure enough money is raised to balance the budget.

The House bill would speed the collection of the state sales tax to raise $288 million. It also would use $121 million in surplus money. On Wednesday, the House added at least $35 million it said wasn't needed to administrate the federal food stamp program.

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