Governor John Kasich gave his fifth State of the State address in Wilmington Tuesday night. Kasich’s speech was something of a pep rally for his proposed two-year budget. He says since he’s been in office, he’s balanced the budget and created a surplus of $1.5 billion—now he wants to increase that margin. He’s also pushing for more income tax cuts for individuals and businesses.
"High income taxes punish risk-taking," said Kasich, harping on a theme of tax cuts to small businesses and individuals to encourage businesses to stay in the state. He says he believes raising sales tax is a fair way to make up the difference, and generally pushed his fiscal conservative stance that a leaner government can be a solution to social ills.
Kasich said the severance tax, a tax on oil and gas drilling in the state, is out of date and needs to be increased, a proposal that’s controversial with the industry and some state reps.
"I’m disappointed by those that say the severance tax reform would kill the industry...that’s a big fat joke," he said.
The second-term Republican also talked about education, streamlining state welfare programs and addressing police-community relations, all in his casual but sometimes passionate style. Some are still speculating about whether Kasich will run for president in 2016, and his speech's focus on bi-partisanship and moderation likely won't dissuade those who think he's leaning that direction.
Responding for the Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni said Kasich needs to spend more time with constituents, and that his policies are bad for poor and working Ohioans.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.