June 26, 2004: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Politics: Vindy: Gov. Bob Taft says he has much to accomplish during the 21/2 years he has left as the leader of the state, but he's giving consideration to what he'll do after he leaves office

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Special Report: Ohio Governor Bob Taft, RPCV Tanzania: June 26, 2004: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Politics: Vindy: Gov. Bob Taft says he has much to accomplish during the 21/2 years he has left as the leader of the state, but he's giving consideration to what he'll do after he leaves office

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Gov. Bob Taft says he has much to accomplish during the 21/2 years he has left as the leader of the state, but he's giving consideration to what he'll do after he leaves office

Gov. Bob Taft says he has much to accomplish during the 21/2 years he has left as the leader of the state, but he's giving consideration to what he'll do after he leaves office

Gov. Bob Taft says he has much to accomplish during the 21/2 years he has left as the leader of the state, but he's giving consideration to what he'll do after he leaves office

Taft surveys state's political landscape

Published: Sat, Jun 26, 2004

The governor says he's not sure what he'll do when he leaves office in 2007.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN Gov. Bob Taft says he has much to accomplish during the 21/2 years he has left as the leader of the state, but he's giving consideration to what he'll do after he leaves office.

During an interview Friday with The Vindicator, Taft was asked about his plans. Taft's second gubernatorial term expires in January 2007, and state term limits forbid him from running for re-election.

"I have a lot more I want to get done," Taft said. "I may do something in education. If the president is re-elected, I may do something there, but I'm not sure."

Taft said he would not resign before his term expires to take another job, even one in the Bush administration if one were offered to him. Regarding education, Taft was never a teacher, but as governor, he created the OhioReads program that encourages volunteer tutors to help elementary school children read. He certainly could find employment as a college professor.

Taft, a Republican, said his relationship with the Ohio House, controlled by members of his own party, has somewhat eased over the past few months. But it is far from perfect. Taft openly criticized House members a year ago for not living in the real world.

"It was hard work getting the bills through because the communication between the House and the Senate was poor through most of the session," he said. "The impression I got was the only time they talked was when leadership met with me. As they wanted to go home and campaign, the issues got settled. The relationship is improving, but it will be a challenge next year."

Replacements

Taft said the three-way battle to replace him among Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery, Attorney General Jim Petro, and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell isn't good for the Ohio Republican Party.

"But I don't think our problems are so severe that it will dramatically impact the election," he said. "We're a victim of our success. I hope they put this on hold this year," and concentrate on getting President Bush re-elected.

Taft said he doesn't plan at this time to involve himself in the 2006 Republican primary for governor.

"I wouldn't say, 'never,' but I don't have anything to say on the '06 governor's race," he said.

Blackwell

He also criticized Blackwell for his effort to repeal the 1-cent sales tax increase the state imposed last year. The Wall Street Journal has praised Blackwell for attempting to repeal the tax.

"He's in cahoots with The Wall Street Journal editorial writers," Taft said. "Anybody that ever thinks about raising taxes gets their heads chopped off [by that newspaper], and they make up the rest of it from there."

In a Friday telephone interview, Blackwell said about Taft's comments: "The facts are what they are no matter how unpleasant it is to the governor. The governor broke a promise by saying he would never increase taxes without a vote of the people. Six months into his new term, he gave the people the largest tax increase in the state's history. I think he's sort of rattled by the realization that we're in an economic death spiral."

Blackwell said the state's budget increased 71 percent during the past decade.

"You can blame The Wall Street Journal or fix the problem," he said.

Blackwell also says he believes Taft is backing Petro as his replacement in 2006.

"My impression from the beginning has been in terms of personality types and camaraderie that he and Jim Petro are attached at the hip," he said.

Because of the sales tax increase, the state should be on decent financial footing for 2005, but there could be trouble on the horizon in 2006 and 2007, Taft said. The tax expires June 2005.

Highlights

Among the legislative highlights so far this year, Taft said, are the passage of a jobs bill for highway improvements, persuading the Legislature to add $108 million toward his Third Frontier high-technology program, providing more funding to help the state's military bases stay off the 2005 federal Base Realignment and Closure list, pension reform, and asbestos tort reform.

Taft also wants the Legislature to approve tax reform, tort reform, and campaign finance reform this year.

"The No. 1 challenge is jobs," he said. "We know you have a lot of problems here [in the Mahoning Valley] and we're doing what we can to help, project by project."

Taft says the state's economy is improving, even though the Valley is lagging behind.

"It's moving along, but we'd like to see it move more," he said. "We can't expect rapid growth in employment. Changing the economy doesn't happen overnight."

skolnick@vindy.com




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Story Source: Vindy

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tanzania; Politics

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