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Published: Tuesday, 6/6/2006

Taft signs substitute for Blackwell ballot issue


COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft yesterday signed a softer legislative alternative to Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's controversial constitutional amendment restricting future state spending.

The law will take effect in 90 days. Supporters believe it will lead the committee behind the controversial Tax Expenditure Limitation amendment to pull the issue from the Nov. 7 ballot.

Two weeks earlier, Mr. Taft signed another bill to specifically authorize a committee behind a proposed issue to have it pulled from the ballot, even after the secretary of state's office has officially certified it as having a sufficient number of voter signatures.

Mr. Blackwell personally delivered a letter signed by the committee to Mr. Taft's office before he signed the first bill. The letter indicated the committee does plan to make such a request.

In the meantime, the TEL remains officially certified for the ballot. The bill authorizing the committee to withdraw it won't take effect for nearly two and a half months.

The watered-down TEL would restrict annual growth in state general revenue fund spending to no more than 3.5 percent, or to the rate of inflation adjusted for population. Unlike the TEL constitutional amendment, it would not affect local governments or school districts.

The language was added to a bill spelling out how Ohio plans to spend its share of the national settlement with major tobacco companies over the next two years.

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