Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Governor Pawlenty and Minnesota legislators should take a lesson from Ohio...appropriate the state's tobacco settlement funds for our budget shortfall


COLUMBUS — The Ohio House Tuesday threw the latest punch in the fight over the state’s tobacco prevention funds.

With Gov. Ted Strickland waiting to sign the emergency measure into law, the House voted 89-5 to immediately take control of $230 million in the trust overseen by Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation

Last week, Mr. Strickland and Republican legislative leaders stunned the foundation’s board when they announced plans to take all but the last $40 million still in the foundation’s coffers to help pay for a $1.57 billion economic stimulus package. The package would invest in everything from roads and bridges to medical and energy research.

The foundation’s board responded Friday by voting to transfer $190 million of its funds to three non-profit organizations out of the reach of the state. But the foundation did not immediately make the transfer, which left the General Assembly and Mr. Strickland time to thwart its plans with passage of today’s emergency law.

"They left us no choice but to act on this," said House Speaker Jon Husted (R., Kettering).

Hopefully this story will help Minnesota lawmakers take possession of OUR tobacco settlement funds away from the unnecessary and unethical ClearWay MN.

And then the right thing to do with those funds would be to compensate those of us in the hospitality industry who have paid for this deeply flawed legislation with our livelihoods, homes, and more.

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