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COLUMBUS Valley Democrats give low marks to speech by Taft

Published: Wed, February 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

But Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, a Republican, was predictably supportive.



COLUMBUS -- Mahoning Valley Democrats slammed Gov. Bob Taft's plans to beef up high-technology jobs in the state, saying the proposal should have emerged before now.

In his fourth State of the State address Tuesday, Taft announced a 10-year plan to spend $1.6 billion on the creation of high-tech jobs through a plan to combine construction budget dollars and operating funds.

"These funds could be used for any number of purposes in every part of Ohio," Taft said.

"Our goal is simple: we'll invest in our strengths, we'll build dynamic new businesses and we'll create an explosion of high-paying jobs," said Taft, who's expected to seek re-election this year.

The speech fell on deaf ears with some Mahoning Valley Democrats.

Reaction: "I thought it was a bland speech," said Rep. Daniel Sferra, a Warren Democrat. "It comes up with gimmicks instead of looking at the long-term good. I don't see anything that excited anybody on either side of the aisle."

"The high-tech program is a dollar short and a day too late," said Rep. John A. Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat.

Taft had touted his administration's support of the struggling domestic steel industry, something that struck a chord with Rep. Anthony Latell, a Girard Democrat.

"With all the closings going on right now, what are they doing to keep the coke plant intact," Latell said, referring to a plant in Warren that LTV is closing.

"I was really surprised by the lack of substance," said Senate Minority Leader-elect Gregory L. DiDonato, a Dennison Democrat.

"It was a very lame speech. While the governor had something to say on higher education issues such as calling on more high-school graduates to go on to college, DiDonato said some state universities are considering tuition hikes.

"How can you ignore the bottom-line cost?" DiDonato asked. "He absolutely said nothing on that issue."

Supporter: A Republican legislator was predictably supportive.

"I think he did very well. I think he hit a number of key points," said Rep. Charles Blasdel, an East Liverpool Republican.


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