COLUMBUS - Governor Taft and his staff are working behind the scenes to try to cure the veto override fever that has spread through the Statehouse.
The governor's office has been making calls in hopes of persuading lawmakers not to pursue override attempts of items Mr. Taft cut from the $45 billion, two-year budget he recently signed.
Speaker of the House Larry Householder (R., Glenford) characterized the conversations, in some cases, as subtle threats, but he insisted that House Republican “enthusiasm” for overrides is not waning.
“Indications are that he wants to sit down and talk about some of these things so that there wouldn't be overrides,” he said. “We are always willing to talk.”
So are House Democrats, who continue to negotiate with Mr. Householder to provide at least several votes to give the overrides a bipartisan flavor.
With a wide smile, House Minority Leader Jack Ford (D., Toledo) said, “I'm saddened over the friction among the Republicans.”
At issue are about 12 of the 49 items that Mr. Taft struck from the budget with his line-item veto.
They include provisions to free more Medicaid money for nursing homes, earmark federal welfare dollars for housing programs for the poor, and prohibit the closing of 56 local unemployment claims offices before Jan. 1.
In some cases, Mr. Taft is proposing to satisfy the legislature's intent in approving these items through some other means, such as separate legislation.
“These phone calls, whether they're placed or returned, are designed to ensure that lawmakers are not misinformed about what the rationale was for the original veto, what the governor's thinking was in arriving at his conclusion,” said Taft spokesman Kevin Kellems.
Despite the talks, the governor expects some overrides, Mr. Kellems said. They would be the first in the two and a half years of his administration.
There are not enough votes, however, to resurrect a controversial provision inserted by Senate President Richard Finan (R., Evendale) and vetoed by Mr. Taft. The language would have extended the existing umbrella of legal immunity for legislators to shield themselves, their staff, and some internal documents from court subpoenas seeking testimony or evidence in cases like the current school-funding lawsuit.
The Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 21-12, could accomplish an override vote on their own. But some GOP members are reluctant to embarrass Mr. Taft with an override.