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Surprise endorsement

It hasn't endorsed him before, but the Ohio Education Association is backing Republican Gov. George V. Voinovich for the U.S. Senate.

Based on the state affiliate's recommendation, the National Education Association announced last month that it will also support the two-term governor's campaign to replace retiring Democratic Sen. John Glenn.

Gov. George Voinovich

A heavy favorite in his party's May primary, Mr. Voinovich would face Democrat Mary O. Boyle, a former state lawmaker who is running unopposed for her party's nomination.

"Over the period he's been governor, [the OEA] has built a relationship with him that's really good," said Mary Elizabeth Teasley, the director of government relations for the NEA. "He's right on just about every issue."

Mr. Voinovich has impressed the Ohio union with his record on state aid to schools, which has increased by $1.7 billion since he took office in 1991. Nearly $600 million of that has gone to low-wealth districts. He has also supported teacher professional development and was instrumental in raising $11 billion in school construction bonds since 1991.

But Mr. Voinovich has also championed a voucher program in Cleveland that is opposed by the union and its members. "We try to exploit that," said Steve Fought, Ms. Boyle's spokesman. "We point out that Boyle is their person, and the OEA is going around supporting the voucher king."

Back-to-school bargains

Rep. Ken Gottlieb, the newest member of the Florida House, wants to give the state's families a two-day tax break on back-to-school supplies.

The proposal, which 70 of the 120 House members are co-sponsoring, would exempt back-to-school purchases under $25 from state sales tax.

Rep. Gottlieb took office after Rep. Steven A. Geller, a fellow Democrat, resigned to fill a vacant state Senate seat. Mr. Gottlieb was sworn in last month and promptly sponsored the sales-tax-relief bill. He estimates that it would cost the state about $9 million in lost tax revenue per year. The bill would set Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, two of the state's busiest back-to-school shopping days, as tax-free.


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