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Published: Saturday, 6/25/2005

Short of votes, GOP delays final high-tech bond issue

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - Still short of votes to put Gov. Bob Taft's Third Frontier bond issue for research and development on the ballot, Ohio Senate and House leaders yesterday put the vote off until Aug. 2.

The deadline for legislative passage of a joint resolution for the constitutional amendment is Aug. 10. House Republicans outnumber Democrats 60-39, but are unable to muster the supermajority 60 votes.

"It's my hope that, as we return to our districts, the people of Ohio will contact their representatives in the legislature to send the message of the importance of jobs and the economy for our state," said House Speaker Jon Husted (R., Kettering).

Democrats have refused to help out until the $500 million Third Frontier is separated from two other bond issues that would be included in the same ballot issue.

The total $2 billion ballot question would also ask voters to renew a $1.35 billion, 10-year public infrastructure bond issue, and approve a new $150 million, seven-year bond issue for projects associated with "shovel-ready" industrial and business sites.

Third Frontier failed at the polls when it appeared alone on the ballot two years ago.

Democrats said they fear it could drag the local project bond renewal down with it this time.

"The GOP's recent decision to ram through a ban on embryonic stem-cell research hasn't helped, and we remain concerned that rural Ohioans don't perceive much of a reason to buy into this program," said House Minority Leader Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island).

Some Republicans are concerned that Mr. Taft's low approval ratings and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation loss of $230 million in questionable investments will make voters less likely to trust the state with more money.



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