Even before the ink dries on Governor Kasich’s proposed two year budget, Ohio’s Republican and Democratic Party leaders are already staking out political positions. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.
Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Bennett credits Gov. John Kasich and Republicans for bringing thousands of new jobs to the Buckeye State. And Bennett says he wants to make sure Ohioans know it.
BENNETT: "Democrats have been hard at work this week spreading outright lies about what the new budget does. Eric Kearney and David Pepper 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 to 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."
Bennett is upset with the liberal-leaning policy group Innovation Ohio and its leaders for spreading what Bennett calls false information.
BENNETT: "So it’s OK for Dale Butland to go on TV and question the governor’s motives? Maybe it’s a good idea 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, StopOhioJob Killers.com. He says the website has one basic mission:
BENNETT: "Our mission is to guarantee that Ohioans know that Ohio Democrats are rooting against them finding a better job. All of this in the name of partisan politics."
REDFERN: "And the difference here is I am right and he is wrong."
That’s Chris Redfern, the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. He likens Kasich’s budget to this activity.
REDFERN: "You're 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 reduce the sales tax and broaden it to items that have never been taxed before amounts to a tax increase for many middle- and low-income Ohioans. Redfern says it’s Democrats who backed the federal auto rescue plan that is credited with saving thousands of jobs in Ohio. And he says it’s Democrats who have been cutting taxes.
REDFERN: "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 consumers when they are alive, punishes them when they are dead, punishes them when they are born, punishes them when they go to school, punishes them when they are in the library, punishes them when they're going fishing, punishes them when they are on the Blue Streak at Cedar Point. John Kasich's got a tax for that."
Redfern says Kasich’s budget does nothing to reduce the size of state government. And Redfern says Kasich has cut funding for local governments so they can no longer meet their obligations to their communities without raising taxes. As far as 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.
REDFERN: "Fabrications cannot stand and will not stand. This is a moral document. 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 prefaced 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 one of the most expensive gubernatorial campaigns in Ohio’s history. Many political analysts predict it could be in excess of $20 million. And much of the groundwork parties are laying now will be front-and-center in the fall of 2014.