Thursday, January 29, 2004

Taft's topics

Highlights of what Gov. Bob Taft said Wednesday, and what some said in response.

Tax reform

Businesses liked tone, but wonder how it can be done
Gov. Taft stresses jobs, tax overhaul

Taft: "Last year I proposed a sweeping plan to lower rates, broaden the base and treat taxpayers fairly. Others in this chamber brought forth creative ideas. We know that tax reform is hard to do - hard in a budget year and hard in an election year. But it must be done."

For: "There are a lot of folks out there today who are not paying their taxes." - House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford

Against: "If Gov. Taft really wants to create more jobs in Ohio . . . then he should start by helping pass legislation to cut income taxes and limit the annual growth in Ohio taxes and spending." - Scott Pullins, chairman, Ohio Taxpayers Association

Lawsuit reform

Taft: "Frivolous lawsuits are driving up the cost of doing business in Ohio. . . . we can compensate injured parties fully and fairly and still protect business from frivolous lawsuits."

For: "This is one of the major issues that businesses face, not just those in Ohio, but those looking to relocate to Ohio." - Tony Fiore, director, Labor and Human Resources Policy, Ohio Chamber of Commerce

Against: "We think it is bad and ineffective public policy to try to solve Ohio's economic problems by punishing the most severely injured people in our state." - Richard Mason, director, Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers

Health Care

Taft: "To help small companies, I ask for a moratorium on new health insurance mandates during this legislative session."

For: "Small businesses are having trouble paying for their employees' health insurance right now. You couldn't think of a worse time than right now to have any more of these mandates." - William Fitzgibbon, director, Ohio Small Business Council

Against: "We need to focus on what's happening with people who are suffering from mental illness in this state and their lack of coverage. All they are asking for is the same coverage you would get for a medical illness." - Gayle Channing Tenebaum, legislative director, Public Children's Services Association of Ohio

Workers' compensation

Taft: "Premiums on average are lower today than when I took office. But we cannot stand still - our costs are higher than some of our neighboring states."

For: "Clearly there are ways that Ohio can change workers compensation to make us more attractive and more competitive with other states." - Ty Pine, state director, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio

Against: "The (workers compensation) system has returned nearly $10 billion in premiums to businesses in the last several years through a series of rate reductions ... We'd certainly fight any efforts to reduce benefit levels." - Kent Darr, spokesman, Ohio AFL-CIO

Ohio schools

Taft: "Ohio just received an 'A' rating for our standards and accountability, and a 'B' for our efforts to improve teacher quality."

For: "Ohio's (accountability) policies make a strong showing across the board. It sets clear and specific standards and assesses whether those standards have been met. And it makes assistance available to low-performing schools." - Lisa Staresina, researcher for Education Week magazine, which rated states' education systems

Against: "They also gave us a 'D+' in school-funding equity. What the state has not done is taken responsibility for its funding." - Tom Mooney, president, Ohio Federation of Teachers

Compiled by Spencer Hunt, Debra Jasper and Jordan Gentile

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