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Sunday, June 27, 2004

Ohio readers share opinions on Gov. Taft's performance



When one looks to Columbus in regards to the problems facing the residents of Ohio today, you have to ask the question. "Are they out to lunch?" When a corporation discovers the wheel is not turning properly or is slowing down you have to look at the CEO and point the finger and ask, "Why and how do we get it running again? After all, it's your responsibility."

I haven't heard any concrete new ideas, recommendations or even suggestions from Gov. Taft and the entire General Assembly concerning the major issues the state faces. Let's get back to work! I am not down on Ohio, I am just wondering why these issues are still facing us.

Jim Macenko, Green Township

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Gov. Taft, as I recall, cast himself as the "Education Governor" when elected to lead Ohio. Ohio's school funding formula is antiquated and relies too heavily on the backs of property owners for taxes. Gov. Taft's state budget deficit threatens to get worse as businesses flee Ohio for better tax breaks. Economic development has been slow and powerless to put the masses of Ohioians back to work. For innovative and creative leadership Gov. Taft and Ohio lawmakers should look to the state of Kentucky.

Elmon Prier, Middletown

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Gov. Taft stressed the need for comprehensive tax reform and fiscal responsibility to solve Ohio's economic woes. However, Ohio taxpayers are expected to give up an extra $3 billion by 2005 to help balance the state's books. Ohioans now pay the third highest state and local taxes in the nation. Gov. Taft also continues to raise taxes on Ohio's small businesses. Yet state spending continues to rise faster than the combined rate of inflation and population growth, and our budget deficit continues to grow.

More money is not the answer; fiscal restraint is. Sadly, Gov. Taft has been all talk and no action.

Matthew McGowan, Cheviot

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Gov. Taft was chosen by the Republican Party for his name recognition, and his strong conservative platform. However, the end result is that he governs as a tax-and-spend liberal. Last summer the governor and Republican-controlled legislature broke repeated pledges not to raise taxes without permission from voters. Citing the slow economy and labeling it "reform," Mr. Taft promoted and signed a $3 billion tax increase - the largest in state history. Therefore, I support Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's drive to repeal Ohio's state sales tax increase.

I am adamant about improving school district accountability before delving into the question of funding.

As for the topic of economic development, it seems the governor is focused solely on manufacturing technology and biotech. In my opinion we should let the venture capitalists pretty much drive this process with the state's role as peripheral.

As for Gov. Taft's tax policies in general, my advice is "cut, cut, cut some more." Government has become too intrusive and too bloated.

But what about the environment? Why is it that every body of water in Ohio that includes all lakes, rivers and streams has been given a fish consumption advisory by Ohio EPA? It is because the state legislature and governor's office has been unconcerned with our environmental quality. Urban sprawl, brownfield abandonment, and lack of will to pursue polluters (including our own Cinergy) are all reasons why Ohio's ecology is in distress.

Christopher Kearney, Westwood

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Budget concerns stem from people's desire to increase services while paying fewer taxes. People have to understand the relationship between the taxes we pay and the services that are then provided by the state. When we tax less we eventually have to cut services. We don't win when we cut everyone's taxes by a few dollars, but then have to spend more out of our pockets for our children's college education or services for our grandparents. It's one big shell game, and until everyone understands we can't have the programs we enjoy while not funding them we will always be in trouble.

Eric McDaniel, Bond Hill

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Governors not only take too much credit for good things but also take the blame for negative things, most of which they have very little, if any, control over. In the case of Ohio, the General Assembly should bear most of the blame for failures, and they should also be thankful for any successes because their approach to most things tends to be less than positive. The governor is at the mercy of the General Assembly's good or bad judgments.

Cletus J. Holtgrefe, Mason

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Bob Taft's Report Card:

The state budget deficit = F

Education funding = D minus

Tax policy = C minus

Economic development, particularly high-tech initiatives = Incomplete

Working with the state legislature = C minus

Some of these grades are based on local media not covering what goes on at the state level very well.

I will be delighted when I see that Gov. Taft - or any Ohio elected official, for that matter - finally sees the light that encouraging and supporting the growth of small and medium sized Ohio-based businesses is the only way to sustained growth. The high-tech initiatives are really a dollar and a day short, trying to catch up with states that have already gone that route.

Ned Hamson, Mount Healthy

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I would like to know how the governor is going to address the Ohio Department of Education, regarding its decision on the Ohio Graduation Test that four out of 10 correctly answered questions is acceptable. It is not acceptable, and this "dumbing-down" of test scores is destroying our educational system, along with inequitable funding.

Adonica Jones-Parks, Northside

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Education Week still gives Ohio a D- grade on equity in education. We are 41st in the nation in school funding per pupil and Ohio school buildings have been ranked the worst in the United States. Corporate income tax sheltering has been eroding the contributions of the state to its schools, and regressive sales and property taxes lay the burden on working people and the poor. Gov. Taft has not, yet needs to, make the case that all citizens and corporations in Ohio must carry the burden of adequacy and equity in education. This is not only a moral issue, but one of sound public policy.

Timothy Leonard, Hyde Park

I think Gov. Taft has been an abject failure. The fact that Ohio has been lagging the national recovery emphasizes that tax policy is key to job creation and retention. Where is the sense in trying persuade businesses to relocate here with huge cash inducements when other businesses are leaving because of the high taxes? Once gone, they will tend to stay gone! Each job lost creates more competition for the remaining jobs.

Edward M. Levy, Montgomery

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Gov. Taft seems like a very pleasant fellow who has been drafted reluctantly into the family business. The good news is that his performance to date has met my expectations. The bad news is that my expectations were not very high.

Mark Aronson, Turpin Hills




SUNDAY FORUM
Bob Taft's big job hunt
Taft reflects on Ohio's progress in recent months
Ohio readers share opinions on Gov. Taft's performance

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