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Published: Thursday, 8/4/2005

Senate OKs $2B jobs issue for ballot

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS The Ohio Senate yesterday unanimously agreed to put $2 billion in economic development borrowing on the November ballot, promising to use faces of working Ohioans to sell it to voters.

Although the three-part Jobs for Ohio bond package would include $500 million for Gov. Bob Taft s pet Third Frontier investment in high-tech and biomedical research, his name was invoked just once on the floor as attempts were made to distance this ballot question from the failed effort two years ago.

It has to be the face of a Youngstown resident who is out there struggling, the face of a Cincinnati resident who s out there looking for opportunities, or that great inventor down in Marietta, Ohio, said Minority Leader C.J. Prentiss (D., Cleveland).

People have to feel this, she said. The minute it has the smack of politics in it, it goes down in flames. While he may be active as I may be active in the background, I hope that s where we both stay.

This time the bond issue has been linked with the more popular renewal of a $1.35 billion bond issue for bridge, water, sewer, and other local public works projects and a new $150 million issue for infrastructure improvements associated with shovel-ready industrial sites.

Despite his low approval rating in polls and an ethics investigation, the governor has said he plans to remain involved.

Taft spokesman Mark Rickel said, Third Frontier is a very important part. There s got to be a lot of people coming together in a bipartisan way to make sure Ohioans understand the need to make these investments in Ohio s economy.

The Ohio Roundtable, a conservative Cleveland-based public policy organization, was not about to separate the governor from the bond issue. It was angered by the sidestepping this week of the issue of whether the constitutional amendment should include restrictions on research involving human embryonic stem cells.

Ohio voters have already rejected Third Frontier once at the ballot box, said David Zanotti, the organization s president. Unfortunately, because of failed leadership, poor legal construction, and a disregard for protecting human life, they will be forced to do so again.

The bond issue contains language designed to assure voters that bond money will not be used to transfer ownership of property from a private owner to a business. The maneuver is in reaction to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing governments to use their power of eminent domain to condemn nonblighted properties for private economic development projects.



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