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STATE OF THE STATE Reps praise Taft on base support

By Jeff Ortega

Saturday, January 31, 2004

A local chamber of commerce official will be on the base task force.
COLUMBUS -- Mahoning Valley state lawmakers praised Republican Gov. Bob Taft's plan to support the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and other Ohio military installations, but one local lawmaker panned another jobs proposal mentioned in the governor's sixth State of the State address.
Democratic state Reps. Sylvester Patton of Youngstown, Kenneth A. Carano of Austintown and Republican state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool said they supported Taft's initiative to help communities save military bases.
"I'm glad that he mentioned it," Patton said Wednesday after the governor's 30-minute address to a joint session of the Ohio Legislature.
"I applaud his support of the military bases," said Carano. "It's huge," Blasdel said.
Task force
As part of a bid to create and retain jobs in the Buckeye State, Taft announced the creation of a so-called Task Force to Save Defense Jobs that will support local campaigns to save military installations in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lima, Springfield and Youngstown.
Miles C. Durfey, a retired Air Force major general, will head the task force, which will comprise economic-development, business and military officials from across the state. It will include Reid Dulberger, executive vice president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
In addition, Taft called for $1 million in new state assistance to local communities to help them market the bases during the federal Base Realignment Closure Commission process in 2005.
"I'm pleased to be representing the Mahoning Valley," Dulberger said. "It's evidence of an ongoing effort of support from the state."
Insurance company tax credits
Although the base-closure initiative drew praise, other proposals drew criticism. A "jobs bill" would extend to insurance companies the Job Creation Tax Credit Program, which provides corporate franchise or state income taxes to businesses.
"I think it's absolutely unconscionable for a governor to be talking about tax breaks for insurance companies when 11 [percent] to 12 percent of citizens are without health insurance," said state Sen. Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat.
Taft made special mention of state Rep. John A. Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat and an Air Force reservist, who has been called to active duty in support of the U.S. military in Iraq.