Gov. John Kasich called for more income tax cuts in his State of the State speech in Marietta last night. And he’s also telling Ohio lawmakers he wants them to pass a congressional redistricting plan. Ohio Public Radio’s Andy Chow and Jo Ingles reports.
Gov. Kasich’s speech was more scripted this year. But then again, this year is different since he’s running for President. He talked about how he feels the state’s economy continues to improve.
“We have actually lifted Ohio out of the ditch. We started moving again and we are picking up speed. The state of our state is getting stronger every day and the outlook is bright and hopeful here in the Buckeye State.”
Kasich said Ohio’s schools are improving and told the crowd the state is making progress in the war on drug abuse. Kasich praised the new legislative redistricting changes that voters ultimately approved last year but he called on legislators to do more to prevent the polarization and gridlock that has come along with the current congressional redistricting plan.
“I think we’ve had enough of it. Gerrymandering needs to be on the dustbin of history.”
Kasich also called on lawmakers to do something they’ve already done twice since he took office – reform taxes to give Ohioans more income tax cuts.
“I will send you, the General Assembly, legislation, to let Ohioans keep more of their hard earned money by accelerating the benefit of income tax cuts we passed last year. There’s no reason to wait. The money’s there so let’s just move it up.”
But Kasich’s tax cut plan and call for redistricting weren't well received by all.
I’m Andy Chow in Marietta where the governor tackled a wide array of issues.
But Democratic Representative Fred Strahorn of Dayton, who leads the Dems in the House, says Kasich’s focus on furthering income tax cuts was a note of concern.
Strahorn says people around Ohio and across the country are growing more and more anxious about the economy and job security, something he says Kasich is seeing on the presidential campaign trail. But the Democratic leader says increasing tax cuts won’t fix the problem.
“They know that they’re working harder, they know that they’re treading water, they know that money’s coming out of their pocket and property taxes are going up they just don’t know who to blame. Those policies, that tax shift, are the very things that are making those folks feel frustrated and angry. They just don’t connect the dots on how that’s happening.”
Republican Representative Ryan Smith of Bidwell says the General Assembly is already working on studying the issue of taxes to figure out which reforms would work best. Smith, the chair of the House finance committee, says it’s a good conversation to have since cutting taxes can spur job growth.
“You take restraints off businesses and put more capital into the business owner’s pocket or just individual’s pocket it opens up opportunity to open or expand their business so that’s certainly one factor into it.”
Democratic Senator Lou Gentile of Steubenville criticized the governor for not focusing on job creation enough, especially given that Kasich delivered the address near his district in southeast Ohio.
“We’re hurting. Just north of here in Monroe County they have the highest unemployment rate in all the state of Ohio. So I thought it was a little short on specifics about how we’re going to revitalize the economy in this part of the state.”
Kasich will return to the presidential race while Ohio lawmakers get ready to tackle the capital budget and the budget update known as the mid-biennium review.