Kasich Says Income Tax Cuts, Social Service Changes Part of Second-Term Agenda

Gov. John Kasich speaks at a school in Cleveland in 2014. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
Gov. John Kasich speaks at a school in Cleveland in 2014. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
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Gov. Kasich told leaders of community action agencies that county commissioners must streamline services for the poor, mentally ill and disabled.

“We’re going to tell the commissioners that you are going to designate a lead agency and someone will be in charge of coordinating everything that involves the person who is in need," Kasich said. "They will help you get the services you want, whether it is the food stamps…and let me let you know that we are going to lift the availability of childcare from 200 to 300 percent of poverty, so people don’t fall off the cliff.”

Kasich said by lifting the income limits, low-income Ohioans won’t have to make the choice between getting a raise and losing childcare. He warned counties to get on board with his plans to streamline social services, or the federal funds that come to them through the state could be at risk.

“We are going to take every dime of TANF money out of that county and give it to a county that wants to do it, or we will privatize those services, or we will take it at the state level," he said, "because we are going to fix this system.”

Kasich said he also wants to make work pay for low-income Ohioans by doubling the personal exemption for low-income people.

“So by doubling the personal exemption and combining it with the earned income tax credit," he said, "Ohio is beginning to give people at the bottom the kind of relief they need, the incentives to work more.”

And Kasich wants to cut taxes for small businesses.

“We are proposing eliminating all income taxes for small business up to $2 million in revenue," he said.

Kasich said his goal is to create jobs. But what Kasich isn’t saying is how he intends to pay for these expanded social services and tax cuts.

The idea that Gov. Kasich would cut income taxes again was no surprise to the four major party caucus leaders who were assembled by the Associated Press for a panel at the same time Kasich was speaking a few blocks away.

In the past, the governor has proposed paying for tax cuts with an increase in the a severance tax on oil and gas drillers, a hike in the cigarette tax , and a broadening of the state sales tax. Republican lawmakers stripped out the severance tax and pulled back the sales tax expansion in Kasich’s last budget, and never even held hearings on the cigarette tax he proposed last year.

Republican Senate President Keith Faber of Celina said he’s happy the governor wants to continue tax cutting, but he’s very concerned about the details.

“I can tell you the Senate will not consider a tax reform plan that does not take, frankly, a significant amount of revenue off the table for the state," Faber said. "That’s not a tax cut – that’s not even tax reform. That’s just tax shifting.”

Faber's Republican colleague, House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger of Clarksville, was even more emphatic.

“I don’t think this caucus, the House, will not accept tax shifting," Rosenberger said. "We just won’t do it. And so we’re going to have to look at the details here.”

But Democratic Senate leader Joe Schiavoni of Youngstown said he’s concerned about a different kind of tax shifting.

“They’re getting a few bucks back in their state tax, but they’re paying out more other places," Schiavoni said.

Fred Strahorn of Dayton leads minority Democrats in the House, and noted that in 2005, when tax cuts instituted by former Republican Gov. Bob Taft went into effect, income taxes did go down. But college tuition went up – often by more than the cuts returned to middle class taxpayers.

“We really do have to pay attention to, when we cut a tax, and if we can do it without harming people in that way, I’m fine with that," Strahorn said. "But I don’t want to keep pushing that responsibility downhill to people who can least afford it.”

But Faber disagreed with the Democrats, saying school levies have gone down in recent years, and that those “few bucks” taxpayers got back added up to $3 billion which he said “is not chump change."

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