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Politicians respond to State of State

Republicans praise speech, Dems say 'more of same'

By MARC KOVAC Capital Bureau Chief Published: April 5, 2017 10:58 AM

COLUMBUS -- Republicans praised Gov. John Kasich's State of the State speech April 4, spotlighting the accomplishments of the administration and the GOP-controlled legislature over the past half dozen years.

"I think the governor did a good job of laying out how things are different than they were in 2011 and why," said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). "When I joined the legislature, when John Kasich became governor, we had lost 350,000 jobs in the prior four years, we had a relatively high level of taxation compared to a lot of competitor states, we had too many burdensome regulations that were hurting small businesses. We rolled up our sleeves We've cut taxes by more than any other state in the country We have seen a significant decline in new regulatory filings A collection of dozens of changes like that have played a major role in turning around the state."

But Democrats, like Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) called it "more of the same from the governor, who continues to shift taxes and shift the burden onto working Ohio families," without enough support for drug addiction and other issues facing the state.

The two sides offered reactions immediate following Kasich's annual address to a joint session of the Ohio House and Senate Tuesday night in Sandusky.

"I think the governor delivered a very positive and good bold vision for our state," said House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville).

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Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) called Kasich's message "upbeat -- Ohio has a mix of opportunities and challenges."

He supports what the governor had to say about innovation, infrastructure improvements and tackling the drug epidemic.

"It's a crisis," he said of the latter. "Those are not hyperbole, those are the only words that can really adequately describe what we're dealing with."

LaRose also supported the governor's call for more cooperation among partisans.

" When he talked about working together, this common humanity thing," he said. "The polarization is something that has bothered me for a long time. I came out of a line of work [in the military] where people worked together, and it was second nature Here in the state of Ohio, we're all in this together, Republicans, Democrats, rich, poor, city country, all of it. I like to find ways to work with my colleagues across the aisle."

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But LaRose and other Republicans aren't completely sold on Kasich's biennial budget proposal.

Take the centralization of municipal income tax filings, which the governor emphasized during his speech.

"I've heard a lot of concerns about it," LaRose said. "I think that there's a trust deficit that exists, quite honestly. I think that you can make a good case for why it's in the best interest of Ohio economically to do it, but as long as our cities don't trust that state government is going to be stewards as the collectors of the tax dollars, then I think it's a nonstarter."

Obhof added that the next budget cycle would be challenging, and the Senate would have a "robust discussion" about proposals included in the executive proposal.

"The state has missed revenues for a significant number of recent months," he said. "If the state needs to tighten its belt, that's what we'll do."

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) said the governor would get a different picture of Ohio if he would talk to real people.

"If he did that, then he would see a different picture in Ohio than what he painted," he said.

Schiavoni said the governor should have addressed neighborhood blight, water quality and other issues.

"What we need to do is make those real investments into those areas," he said. "He bragged about a $5 billion tax cut over the past six years. He also has $2 billion in the rainy day fund. I'm not saying write a check for the balance We're talking about making meaningful investments to improve the quality of life in Ohio. And if we don't deal with this opioid problem, if we don't deal with this heroin problem, we're going to be in a world of hurt here."

Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) said he wanted a more bipartisan tone in the governor's speech.

"I'm going to request a meeting with him soon here, because I think there's some things that we can work on in the energy sector," he said. "But I would have liked to see the governor have some minority leadership up on the stage We've been hearing about [bipartisanship] for a long time, but in practice, we just haven't seen it."

Boccieri said he liked the governor's emphasis on education's role in job creation.

"I don't agree that we should be sending teachers out into the field, but I do agree that business leaders on local school boards can help make the difference in driving our education needs," he said.

Rep. Michael O'Brien (D-Warren) had wanted to hear more about the governor's plans too boost job creation.

"The fact that Ohio lags in job creation throughout the entire country is really a sad state of affairs," he said, adding, "Ohio is not keeping track with job creation. [That] needs to be addressed."

Rep. Glenn Holmes (D-McDonald) added, "The governor, his job is to paint a rosy picture of Ohio, but there's so much more that we can do There's a lot more we can do about the opiate epidemic. There's a lot more we can do about primary and secondary education. I'd like to see him do that in a bipartisan fashion with a sensitivity toward labor."

That said, O'Holmes said he enjoyed visiting Sandusky for his first State of the State.

"There's a lot of statesmen here that we can work with in a bipartisan way, free of spin.," he said.

Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Sean O'Brien (D-Bazetta), support Kasich's position on the Medicaid eligibility expansion. But he said the governor focused too much of his time on corporate interests instead of citizen interests.

"He doesn't talk about the little guy," he said. "He doesn't talk about the most important thing that we're seeing right now in Trumbull County, the opiate [epidemic]. He spent two or three minutes on it There's nothing in this budget that's going to help alleviate the opiate addiction that we have here in Trumbull County especially. I was pretty disappointed in that part of it."

Clyde said the governor offered "some lofty rhetoric, but what we're seeing in this budget and what we've seen from his administration have been unprecedented attacks on women's health care, on labor, on voting rights and on our local communities."

Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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