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Taft Tours Ohio to Sell Businesses on Tax Plan
SOURCE: Associated Press
April 04 2005

Columbus - Gov. Bob Taft, often criticized for his low-key manner, has been busy this year playing the role of the traveling salesman.

In his sample case: the most ambitious overhaul of Ohio's tax code since the 1930s.

Taft has been crisscrossing the state since introducing his plan in February. He has visited numerous high-tech manufacturers to tout his Third Frontier initiative, then sells local businesses and government officials his tax plan.

The plan would cut individual income taxes by 21 percent, phase out the tax on equipment and machinery, eliminate the tax on corporate profits and add a new commercial activity tax.

"The initiative the governor is proposing is really going to make businesses in the state of Ohio a lot more competitive," Dynalab chief financial officer Charles Arbuckle said.

He proposed major tax changes two years ago that died in an Ohio House committee.

But administration officials say That his campaign for this year's version is the most aggressive of his six-plus years in office.

His point man on taxes, Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson, and other administration officials have delivered speeches, sent out let ters, met with local chambers of commerce and made calls to business leaders, legislators and others.

Before the Ohio Chamber of Commerce released its alternative tax plan, Taft sent lawmakers a letter critical of it.

Democrats say the plan helps only the wealthy. And some business groups, notably retailers, don't like the commercial activity tax.

But at Taft's urging, other business groups and companies have endorsed the plan. Taft also has worked to secure the support of Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted and Ohio Senate President Bill Harris, both Republicans.