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OHIO Budget retains funds for GM



Published: Thu, November 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state department and the governor remain committed to the Lordstown complex, a spokeswoman said.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- Despite spending cuts, state officials say $25 million remains intact in the state's two-year, $45 billion state budget for projects such as retaining the GM Lordstown Assembly Plant.

"That appropriation is still in there and is not expected to be affected in any way," said Maria Smith, Department of Development spokeswoman, after conferring with top department officials. "The department and the governor remain committed to Lordstown."

Gov. Bob Taft successfully lobbied state lawmakers to include the provision during budget talks this past summer.

In an executive order last month, Taft ordered 6 percent cuts at most state agencies, including the DOD, to help fight a projected $1.5 billion shortfall in the current two-year budget that runs through June 2003.

Budget cuts ordered by Taft amount to about $600 million over the two-year budget period.

Package considered: The Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee is now considering a House-passed budget package that would also close certain so-called tax loopholes and use money from the approximate $1 billion rainy-day fund to balance the budget.

The House-passed package also would borrow money from the state's share of the national tobacco settlement.

Senate Finance Chairman Jim Carnes, R-St. Clairsville, said he expected the economic development money to remain intact in the budget as his committee considers the proposal.

A Senate vote on the budget package is expected next week.

No offer yet: Taft administration officials say economic development incentives haven't officially been offered yet to GM.

Officials at the plant and with the union have been trying for years to locate a new product at the sprawling assembly plant. A decision from the company is pending.




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