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Government and Politics

The fight over Kasich's budget may preview the Ohio governor's race
Democrats and Republicans lob charges over tax shifts, jobs and the middle class

Jo Ingles
In The Region:

Ohio’s Republican and Democratic Party leaders are already tearing into each other over Gov. John Kasich’s proposed two-year budget. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

INGLES: Budgets and governor's races

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Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett credits Gov.Kasich and Republicans for bringing thousands of new jobs to the Buckeye State. And Bennett says he wants to make sure Ohioans know it.

“Democrats have been hard at work this week spreading outright lies for what the new budget does. (Ohio Sen.) Eric Kearney and (former Hamilton County Commissioner) David Pepper have incorrectly stated that the budget raises taxes. It does not. The budget cuts taxes for every Ohioan by $1.4 billion. The Ohio Democrat Party has incorrectly claimed that the budget cuts funding for schools when, in fact, the budget increases the base level of state funding for school districts and assures no district will suffer any dollar loss.”

Claims of misinformation
Bennett is upset with the liberal leaning policy group, Innovation Ohio, and its leaders for spreading what he calls false information.

“So it’s OK for (Innovation Ohio’s) Dale Butland to go on TV and question the governor’s motives? Maybe it’s time for us to ask some questions. What is Innovation Ohio? What are its motivations? How do we hold them and the Democrats accountable for opposing job creation?”

Bennett says he’s answering those questions on a newly created website: Stop Ohio Job

“Our mission is to guarantee that (people know) Ohio Democrats are rooting against them finding a better job.”

Democrats say they're the ones who champion jobs
But the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, says Kasich’s budget it like “moving seats around on the Titanic.”

Redfern says Kasich’s income tax cut provides huge breaks to the wealthiest Ohioans. And he says Kasich’s plan to apply a lowered sales tax to many services that have never been taxed before amounts to a tax increase for many middle and low income Ohioans.

Redfern says it’s Democrats who have protected jobs, including by backing the federal bailout of the auto industry credited with saving thousands of jobs in Ohio. And he says it’s Democrats who have been cutting taxes.

“Our record is this. When Gov. Strickland was in office, he offered seniors the largest property tax cut in this state’s history. And today, just three years later, Gov. Kasich goes in quite an opposite direction: one of the largest expansions of sales tax increases in state history that punishes consumers, punishes when they are alive, punishes when they are dead, punishes them when they are born, punishes when they go to school, punishes them when they are in the library, punishes them when they are on the Blue Streak at Cedar Point. John Kasich has a tax for that.”

Redfern says Kasich’s budget does nothing to reduce the size of state government. And he argues that Kasich has cut funding for local governments so they can no longer meet their obligations to their communities without increasing taxes.

As for the surplus Kasich often talks about, Redfern says it doesn’t exist. Redfern says he doesn’t need a special website to convince Ohioans that the Democrats are right. He says all Ohioans need to do is to look at the proposed budget.

“Fabrications cannot stand and will not stand. Budgets are moral documents. It’s what a governor’s campaign, it’s what a governor’s term rests upon. This governor’s budget is premace on the notion that if you reward the wealthiest and the richest, you will receive your reward with re-election.”

Both Redfern and Bennett are preparing for what’s likely to be the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in Ohio’s history. Many political analysts predict spending could top $20 million. 

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