Taft needs lawmakers to back his proposals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Improving Ohio's economy dominated Gov. Bob Taft's annual State of the State address Wednesday.

During his annual speech, Taft offered numerous proposals for boosting the state's troubled economy, especially the manufacturing sector.

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"My New Year's resolution is to spend every day doing all I can to help create jobs for Ohioans," Taft said Wednesday.

And, who can blame him? In the last three years, Ohio has lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs. To help preserve job losses, Taft is asking lawmakers to pass a number of bills, including one that would limit lawsuits against companies and another that would reduce workers' compensation costs.

While Taft brings up valid points, he can get little accomplished without the backing of the General Assembly. Unfortunately for Taft, lawmakers have not always seen things his way.

Here are a few examples of proposals Taft made during last year's State of the State speech that were shot down:

4Taft proposed raising taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to help offset a budget deficit. Lawmakers, however refused, forcing Taft to cut about $100 million from schools.

4Taft proposed a massive revamping of the state's tax code, a plan that would update the system and close loopholes but would also increase taxes by more than $2 billion over two years. Lawmakers largely ignored the plan, then were forced to enact a temporary 1-cent sales tax increase instead to balance the budget.

4Taft called for "new transportation revenue" to pay for road and bridge construction. Instead, lawmakers go along with a 6-cent increase in the state gasoline tax over three years.

The only way Taft is going to be able to implement these plans is by persuading lawmakers to pass legislation. As his track record shows, House and Senate members have been reluctant to move on his proposed legislation.

With Ohio's economy in a vulnerable state, it is crucial that Taft and legislators work together to find ways to turn it around and help the state prosper.