Blackwell to delay spending proposal
Blackwell wants to make the proposal a plank in the platform of his gubernatorial campaign.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell and the Citizens for Tax Reform say they want to delay placing a proposal to limit the growth of state spending before voters until November 2006, when voters will also select a new governor.
Blackwell, who is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, said Monday he wants the proposed constitutional amendment, originally proposed to be on the ballot this November, to be part of his campaign platform.
"I intend to be the GOP nominee for governor and expect this amendment to be a major element of my platform for fiscal restraint for government and job creation for the private sector," Blackwell said in a statement.
Citizens for Tax Reform, whose honorary chairman is Blackwell, had been prepared to file at least 515,000 signatures by Wednesday, the deadline to submit issues for the November 2005 ballot. However, backers say they will now file the signatures on Thursday to place the issue on the ballot next November.
Backers need to submit at least 322,899 valid signatures for the proposal to qualify for the statewide ballot.
The proposed amendment, called a Tax Expenditure Limitation, would restrict annual state- and local-government spending growth to 3.5 percent, or the rate of inflation plus population growth, whichever is higher.
Any unspent money in excess of 10 percent of the state budget would be returned to taxpayers, under the proposed amendment. The proposal also would forbid the state from imposing unfunded mandates on local governments.
Supporters say the proposed amendment is needed to rein in state-government spending. Opponents say it will cut vital government services.
State Auditor Betty D. Montgomery, who is also seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year, opposes the so-called TEL amendment, Montgomery campaign consultant Mark Weaver said.
Montgomery "favors limits on taxing and spending but not Ken Blackwell's personal plan," Weaver said.
Attempts to reach state Attorney General Jim Petro, who is also seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination, were unsuccessful.
Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, a Democrat seeking his party's nomination for governor, opposes the proposed TEL amendment, said Dan Trevas, Coleman's campaign spokesman.
U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland of Lisbon, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, also opposes the amendment.