Canton Repository

October 26, 2001

Taft asks Bush for money to combat terrorism 


WASHINGTON — Emerging from a meeting with President Bush on Thursday, Gov. Bob Taft expressed his liking for an economic stimulus measure passed by the House and said he was confident Ohio will get sufficient federal aid for anti-terrorism efforts.

“I believe states will get the dollars they need to deal with emergency preparedness and also to deal with public health issues or threats as they arise,” said Taft, among a handful of governors who met with Bush.

Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor who is Bush’s new director of homeland security, also was in the White House meeting.

Taft said he made two main points to the president. First: Ohio needs a federal economic stimulus package to help its slowing economy — and needs it quickly. Second: the state needs federal aid to strengthen its ability to respond to a possible attack using anthrax or another deadly biological agent.

In Ohio, the slowing economy has shrunk tax revenues, carving a $1.5 billion deficit in the state budget.

Taft said Ridge “was clearly aware of the need for additional state resources” to protect against terrorism. Bush is supporting Ridge, the governor added.

Bush has asked Congress for the authority to spend $175 million on state and local efforts to respond to a bioterrorist attack. That spending would come from $40 billion in emergency aid that Congress approved last month.

Asked about a $99.5 billion economic stimulus bill passed by the House on Wednesday, Taft called it a “good proposal.” It would be  even better if it included federal aid that could be spent on state transportation projects, he said. Those projects would strengthen the state’s infrastructure while creating jobs.

The House bill earmarks some $12 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, which would benefit those who lost their jobs during the economic slowdown aggravated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Taft said those “dollars for dislocated workers (are) very important for the state of Ohio.”

The president, House and Senate all agree on the need for an economic stimulus initiative, but the Senate has not passed its version yet. The House bill squeaked through on a 216-214 party line vote.