State of the State Focuses on Tax Cuts, Increases

Gov. John Kasich took his State of the State speech on the road again this week, and for the first time went to the southern part of the state. He was in Wilmington near Dayton, where he talked tax cuts and increases, but unfortunately for observers who were hoping for hints, he didn’t say anything about his possible presidential ambitions. And Kasich seemed aware that he faces an uphill battle on getting those tax increases in his proposed budget past his fellow Republican lawmakers. And the governor also handed out his Courage Awards to the state’s 200,000 nurses, represented by Knox County nurse Jackie Fletcher; to Shane and Brittany Robinson, who saved a couple from a flaming car after coming upon the wreckage while driving in Lorain County in 2013; and to Cincinnati’s Lauren Hill, the Mt. St. Joseph University basketball player who’s gained national attention for her battle against incurable, inoperable brain cancer.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly had official caucus responses after the speech. Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) stayed positive when talking about the speech, but were somewhat vague about the severance tax increase. Not all Republicans took the views that Rosenberger and Faber outlined. Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati) wants to see the income tax eliminated entirely. But he also says disagrees with tax shifting. And Becker also told me that while he’s opposed to the severance tax because he feels it compromises national security, he’d have no problem with a limited form of it.

Of course, Democrats had a totally different set of opinions, including Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman), House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton), Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Alicia Reece (R-Cincinnati).

As many political observers were watching that speech in Wilmington, they were also watching for something else – a decision from the man who Kasich beat in 2010 on whether he would run for US Senate next year. And former Gov. Ted Strickland did make the rumors official this week – he is joining Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in running for the Democratic nomination to go against incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman. He talked about his platform with the Statehouse News Bureau's Jo Ingles. Republicans were quick on the attack – and Portman himself addressed the party’s response to this new candidate in the race.

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