Posts Tagged 'Gov. Kasich'

Leader Budish’s Statement on Re-apportionment Lawsuit

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) released the following statement upon the 4-3 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in the re-apportionment lawsuit.

“Today’s Ohio Supreme Court decision is a victory for partisan political gerrymandering and a significant loss for Ohio voters. The court’s narrow majority in its 4-3 decision simply legalized the process of putting political interest ahead of the preservation of communities of interest.  The Constitution clearly requires that the apportionment board minimize splits to counties, townships, cities and wards. The map that was adopted slices and dices governmental units 255 times, while alternative maps divided governmental units fewer than 100 times.

“The majority decision ignores the clear mandate of Article XI of the Constitution. Instead, the current legislative maps were drawn with the intent of maximizing political opportunity for one party. As a result, Republicans in the 2012 elections won a large majority in the House, while losing the statewide vote for state House candidates. This does not serve the broad interest of Ohio voters, instead it perpetuates a broken political system which will continue to favor extremism, not responsible governing.

“The court’s decision today points to the urgent need to adopt a new, fair system of redistricting.”



Reps. Lundy & Gerberry Introduce Bill to Requiring Public Input on Possible Outsourcing of Turnpike

State Reps. Matt Lundy (D- Elyria) and Ronald V. Gerberry (D- Austintown) will soon be introducing legislation to require the Ohio Turnpike Commission to hold four public hearings within three months of the bill being enacted on the issue of outsourcing the maintenance and operation of the Ohio Turnpike. The public hearings would be held in geographically diverse locations in the state that are within the immediate vicinity of the Ohio Turnpike.

“Ohioans in communities all along the Turnpike are outraged at the Governor’s apparent plan to privatize the Turnpike without even allowing for public input,” said Rep. Lundy.  “The turnpike has created jobs for many in the local communities surrounding it throughout the years, helping to support the local economy. Privatizing the Turnpike could cost jobs, hurting those very same communities.”

The bill would also amend and repeal certain sections of the Revised Code to eliminate the authority of the Director of Budget Management and the Director of Transportation in regard to Ohio Turnpike-related outsourcing contracts.  

“The residents of northern Ohio helped finance this incredibly valuable asset and giving up ownership in any manner is wrong. Selling off Ohio assets for one time money is clearly not the right direction for our great state,” said Rep. Gerberry. “Ohioans deserve better leadership and a Governor who will listen to their needs and concerns.”

Furthermore, upon the conclusion of the last hearing, the Commission shall compile any materials submitted to it during the hearings and prepare a report that summarizes the comments of persons who appeared at the hearings. The Commission shall present the report to the Governor and the presiding officers and minority leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives not later than thirty days after the date of the last hearing.

“We need to look no further than to our neighbors in Indiana to see what will happen if we privatize the Ohio Turnpike,” said Rep. Lundy. “Indiana struck a $3.8 billion, 75-year lease deal with a foreign vendor for its 151-mile toll road. In the five years since the lease, tolls have more than doubled, maintenance of the road and rest areas has deteriorated greatly, and now the foreign company that leased the turnpike is in danger of defaulting on their loans.”

Gov. Kasich is seeking to privatize the Ohio Turnpike for 50 years at an estimated $3 billion. This one-time cash infusion would cost the state a valuable source of annual revenue.  The revenue from a potential privately run Turnpike could also leave the state, as many private operators are based on Wall Street or overseas. The Ohio Turnpike has helped support local economies for years by creating and maintaining jobs.  Communities fear privatization will cause drastic increases in toll costs, and the 241 mile road that stretches Northeast Ohio—through the Snowbelt—will not be as well maintained.


Kasich and Taylor Give Away State Control for Partisan Political Games

Lt. Governor Mary Taylor has once again put politics over the interests of Ohio’s businesses and consumers by not submitting a list of minimum essential benefits to be covered under Ohio health insurance policies.  Citing a lack of clarity in rules from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), she ignored an important deadline in implementing federal health care reform.

“The Lt. Governor consistently derides ‘Obamacare’ and federal mandates and yet, when given the opportunity for control over how the insurance industry will be regulated in Ohio, she opts for a one-size-fits-all federal model,” said Representative John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus). “Secretary Sebelius and HHS recognized that all states are not the same and allowed states the opportunity to regulate themselves. Ohio has a unique economy and unique demographics.  What works in California or Texas or Indiana may not be best for Ohioans.”

Insurance is one of Ohio’s largest industries.  According to the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio’s health insurance sector employs nearly 50,000 people—ranked 6th highest in the nation.

Representative Carney has been a champion of state control in implementing health reform in Ohio.  Last January, he introduced HB 412 with Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) to establish an individual and small business health benefit exchange.  In their legislation, a board of industry experts would be responsible for establishing minimum essential benefits in Ohio.

“The refusal of this administration to implement any part of the Affordable Care Act demonstrates a disheartening willingness to put political gamesmanship before the best interests of the people of Ohio,” Rep. Carney said.  “The opposition to certain provisions of the ACA appears to stem not from concerns over their merit, but rather from a staunch refusal to admit that an idea—first implemented by a Republican Governor, then adopted by a Democratic President—could actually benefit the people.”


Schools Across State Starving in Face of Historically Deep Budget Cuts

As the Ohio House Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education prepares to meet at the Warren County ESC, in Lebanon, State Rep. Matt Lundy highlighted the need to put our kids and communities first as they face financial crisis.

Ohio school districts are projecting huge deficits because of $1.4 billion in cuts to education in the state’s operating budget, which passed along party lines.  Schools in Warren County were cut a total of nearly $27 million for fiscal years 2012-13 when compared to 2011, including more than $4 million from Lebanon City Schools and $9 million from Mason City School. Districts across the state are left to struggle with the best way to prepare children for the future with larger class sizes, fewer music and art programs, costly extra-curricular activities and limited or no busing. 

“Rather than addressing the brewing financial crisis facing communities like Lebanon, where the city schools face a projected deficit of nearly $2 million dollars for fiscal year 2013 and more than $3 million for fiscal year 2014, Republicans have decimated school funding.  Schools across the state struggle to cope with unfunded mandates, large class sizes and few teachers in the classroom,” said Rep. Lundy.

House Bill 30 dismantled education reforms set in place by Democrats taking apart key provisions like all-day kindergarten, and it removed the Evidence Based Model for education, returning us to an unconstitutional funding system that is overly reliant on property taxes, while we wait for Gov. Kasich to introduce his own plan, and hold hearings around the state nearly two years later.

“It’s been 15 years since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that our school funding system is unconstitutional because it relies too heavily on local property tax,” said State Rep. Matt Lundy. “Today, as schools face tough decisions this reliance is only growing, while we just begin to have hearings nearly two years after dismantling the Evidence Based Model that would have helped to reduce the burden on local property taxpayers.”

35 school districts are preparing to ask citizens to pass levies, increasing their local property taxes, during special elections in August. While school districts across the state are facing a combined school-funding deficit of over $1.79 billion in fiscal year 2014. This is based on a calculation of each school district’s five-year projection of finances, which is required to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education. Policy Matters Ohio also estimates that school districts in “Fiscal Watch” or “Fiscal Emergency” could spike by 300 percent this year, from 14 to 43.


Okey Calls on Kasich, Legislature to Protect Landowners’ Rights

State Representative Mark D. Okey called on Governor John Kasich and legislative leaders in an open letter to act on legislation protecting Ohio’s landowners from predatory leasing practices by the oil and gas industry. As the Governor and his allies consider raising taxes on deep-shale drilling, Rep. Okey urged Republican leadership to make landowners’ rights a priority when the General Assembly returns to session.

“Governor Kasich’s recent press conference on fracking was a missed opportunity,” Rep. Okey said. “Every day, Big Oil is taking advantage of my constituents and people all around Ohio. The state needs to act now to protect their property rights before it is too late.”

Based on his personal experience representing landowners in eastern Ohio, Rep. Okey has sponsored House Bill 493, known as the “Truth in Leasing Act.” The bill would establish common-sense regulation of the oil and gas leasing process and guarantee a minimum royalty for Ohio’s landowners akin to those found in neighboring states.

Since being introduced in March, the bill has yet to receive a hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg).

“Drilling in Ohio must be done fairly and responsibly, and Ohioans deserve their full share of the earnings from the oil and gas on their property,” Rep. Okey said. “I call on Speaker Batchelder and Chairman Hall to work with me on this issue. Protecting Ohio’s landowners should not be a matter of partisan politics.”­

A copy of Rep. Okey’s letter can be seen below.

July 19, 2012

To: John R. Kasich, Governor
William G. Batchelder, Speaker of the House
Dave Hall, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Re: Landowners’ Rights

Dear Governor Kasich, Speaker Batchelder, and Chairman Hall,

Protection of property rights is one of the basic tenets of government, yet one that our state has avoided when it comes to shale drilling. The General Assembly broke for summer recess without debating what I would consider to be reasonable regulation of the shale drilling industry. We missed another opportunity to stand up for our constituents’ property rights. I was encouraged to see Governor Kasich bring drilling issues back to the forefront during his press conference last week.

Issues of taxation aside, there are common-sense reforms we can make to the oil & gas leasing process that would be good for both Ohio’s landowners and the companies developing our state’s natural resources. It is my firm belief that we have not done enough to regulate the drilling industry and to adequately protect the rights and property of Ohio’s landowners.

Our failure to act means that the industry will continue to face costly lawsuits and allegations of misconduct until we pass reasonable legislation to improve the leasing process in our state.

I have spoken to all of you on this subject, and I have shared stories of unethical and predatory behavior happening in my district and around the state. The time to act is now, as more and more landowners face the consequences of unscrupulous leasing practices.

It is my firm belief that we can find common ground on this issue. We can correct inequities and solve problems in a bipartisan fashion. I urge you to work with me on House Bill 493, my “Truth in Leasing” legislation.

While I have received encouraging feedback from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, leadership refuses to move this bill.  I urge immediate action on House Bill 493, in order to protect our landowner constituents.

My door is always open. Please feel free to contact me or my office at any time.


Respectfully Yours,

State Representative


Funding Delays for Successful, Job-Creating Third Frontier Program ‘Unacceptable’

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich today expressing his deep concern over ongoing funding delays in the bipartisan Ohio Third Frontier Program. Third Frontier was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and has a long -history of success in helping to create new jobs in technology and innovation, but has remained nearly idle for more than 18 months now. A copy of Leader Budish’s letter can be seen below.

The Honorable John R. Kasich
Office of the Governor
77 S. High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Gov. Kasich:

 I write to express my serious concern over the harm to economic development in Ohio being caused by prolonged funding delays in the Ohio Third Frontier Program.

 Ohio Third Frontier is a proven, job-creating economic development tool that was initially approved by the voters in 2005 and renewed and expanded in 2010.  It has a long history of bipartisan support and is considered by some to be a model economic development program envied by other states. 

As a passionate advocate for the program, I am very concerned about unwarranted delays in the funding of new projects under this program. At a time of serious economic challenges for Ohioans, I do not understand why there is not a greater sense of urgency to make these job-creation resources available more quickly. Moreover, the delays have created uncertainty and a loss of momentum, which jeopardizes the entire program.

I understand the desire for programmatic reviews, but after 18 months the Third Frontier remains stalled and over two-thirds of its funding capacity for Fiscal Year 2012 has been delayed.  Furthermore, these funding delays are with programs that the Ohio Third Frontier Commission and the Ohio Department of Development reviewed, analyzed and approved in October 2011.

The politicization of the Third Frontier approval process is also of great concern.  During the previous General Assembly there was bipartisan support to ensure that projects were awarded based on objective criteria applied by an independent review process. Yet, over the last year and against recommendations made by the Third Frontier independent reviewers, recommendations have been ignored or rejected.

The recent rejection of the LEEDCo project is a prime example of the potential perversion of the program. As you know, this project was preliminarily approved by an outside reviewer, the Ohio Department of Development, and business leaders who are representatives on the commission.  Following these approvals, the project was then denied by a majority of the commission, with little explanation or justification.

The inexplicable delays in this successful, bipartisan program have caused missed opportunities for job creation and have sent dangerous warning signs to investors, entrepreneurs and other job creators that this program is no longer a priority for Ohio. I hope that is not the case, but the slowed pace of funding and the recent denial of the LEEDCo project certainly indicate otherwise.

The Third Frontier was carefully designed to support entrepreneurs and research and development projects leading to new jobs in technology and innovation.  The financial returns to the state from all of this work were analyzed and reported by the Ohio Business Roundtable (attached) in preparation for the 2010 ballot initiative, so we can be confident that this program is making a significant impact.

It is my sincere hope that the funds will not be diverted to support other unrelated projects, possibly violating the letter and spirit of the Constitutional Amendment approved overwhelmingly by Ohioans. Any further delays in this successful, job creating program are simply unacceptable and only inhibit Ohio’s economic competitiveness.


State Rep. Armond Budish,
Ohio House Minority Leader


Budish: Frack Tax should be Reviewed, Schools shouldn’t be Shortchanged

In response to Gov. John Kasich’s renewed push to increase the severance tax on oil and gas companies, House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement:

“Gov. Kasich’s proposal to modestly increase the severance tax on oil and gas companies is a step in the right direction.  But we should be protecting local property taxpayers and prioritizing our communities, not passing more tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy Ohioans. 

“Ohio has one of the lowest severance tax rates in the country so reviewing those rates only makes sense as large oil and gas companies attempt to capitalize on Ohio’s natural resources.  On this, I agree with Gov. Kasich and frankly I can’t understand why House Republicans have stood in the way.

“Instead of protecting the oil and gas industry with one of the lowest tax rates in the country, we should be finding ways to prioritize our communities and protect local property taxpayers. The fallout from last year’s budget is just beginning.  In next month’s special election alone, 35 communities will be seeking local property tax increases.

“Furthermore, the impact of this new industry is going to add significant costs for local communities and this proposal does very little to address this. There’s also serious concern about protecting against environmental risk.  As of 2011, Ohio had only 30 field inspectors to inspect 64,481 wells. Adding a few more will help but our overall regulatory capacity is still limited.

“I truly believe that our state is only as strong as our local communities.  Going forward, we must prioritize Ohio communities and protect local property taxpayers.  I agree with Gov. Kasich, we should determine a fair frack tax rate, but we shouldn’t shortchange our schools and local communities along the way.”


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