Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Term limits' influence seen in budget fray

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A day after Gov. Bob Taft in January announced his proposal to fix Ohio's school-funding system, Senate President Richard Finan pitched his own ideas.

        The disagreement between Republicans set the tone for six months of deliberations over the state budget, which concluded with another standoff, this time over the use of federal welfare money to fund state social-service programs.

        After Mr. Taft vetoed the use of the federal money, the House and Senate — both GOP-controlled — threatened overrides. Eventually, a compromise was reached. While leaders from the same party would be expected to coordinate priorities, the continuing influence of term limits has created a sometimes divisive dynamic, analysts and state officials say.

        “Certainly in terms of executive-legislative relations, the legislature was viewed as unusually assertive,” said William Binning, a Youngstown State political science professor. “It's new people, it's new politics in Ohio.” Term limits, holding lawmakers to eight-year tenures, swept 45 new legislators into the House in January. Pushing a more conservative agenda, but also seen as more independent individually, they elected Larry Householder, a Glenford Republican, speaker.

        “From a historical standpoint you saw some shifting of power from the executive branch to the legislative, and I think mostly in the House,” said Rep. Jack Ford, a Toledo Democrat. “The speaker established a beachhead.”


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