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Published: Wednesday, 1/31/2001

House leader faults school plans

BY JIM DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS - School-funding plans pushed by Governor Taft and Senate Republicans won't satisfy the Ohio Supreme Court, House Speaker Larry Householder said yesterday

“I don't think it's any secret that neither the governor's plan nor the Senate's plan probably solves DeRolph,” said Mr. Householder, referring to lawsuit that a coalition of public schools filed in 1991 to challenge the funding system.

Twice since then, the high court has issued 4-3 decisions striking down the system, which relies on local and state tax dollars, as unconstitutional. The legislature faces a June 15 deadline to submit a new system.

Mr. Householder's comments were the boldest he's made so far on school funding. A Republican from Perry County, where the school-funding lawsuit was filed, Mr. Householder has not outlined his own plan.

But he said he is “intrigued” by a proposal that Mr. Taft's advisers formulated last year to put property taxes paid by businesses on equipment, machinery, and inventory into a “pool,” then send them to poorer districts.

Mr. Taft did not embrace the proposal, as Senate President Richard Finan (R., Evendale) said it would be the “final nail in the coffin” for local control over public schools.

Yesterday Mr. Finan said “pooling” likely would satisfy Justices Andy Douglas and Alice Robie Resnick, but education groups would “come unglued” if tax revenue was redistributed around the state.

House Minority Leader Jack Ford (D., Toledo) said he expects Mr. Householder and his top aides to work quietly over the next several months to develop a school-funding plan.

“He may well be the guy who comes up with the closest solution to the Supreme Court of any of the players down here,” Mr. Ford said.

Republicans, who control the House by a 59-40 margin, rolled out their top nine bills for the two-year session.. The Republicans would:

  • Put into law several recommendations from a governor's commission on how to overhaul Ohio's system of education standards and testing. The sponsor is state Rep. Jim Hoops (R., Napoleon).

  • Provide details on how the state will use a constitutional amendment approved last year that allows the state to borrow $400 million to clean polluted sites and preserve green spaces.

  • Enable the state Department of Aging to offer a prescription drug discount to Ohioans eligible for the Golden Buckeye Program.

  • Put into law Ohio's standards for counting ballots to prevent the turmoil that struck Florida in the battle between President Bush and former Vice President Al Gore. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. J. Tom Lendrum (R., Huron), would make it clear punch card votes count if two corners of a ballot chad are detached.

    They include efforts to require juvenile sex offenders to register with law enforcement officials, overhaul annexation laws, set up a complaint process against companies that “spam” computer users with e-mail ads, and allow married couples to file joint or separate state income tax returns regardless of their federal filing status.

    Blade Writer Jim Provance contributed to this report.



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