Posts Tagged 'Kasich'

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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Leader Budish Praises the President as Unemployment Rate Continues to Drop

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement praising President Obama for the continued drop in unemployment in Ohio. April’s unemployment numbers were released today showing Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.5 percent to 7.4 percent in April.

“Ohio’s continued drop in unemployment is proof that President Obama’ policies are working.  This is particularly impressive in light of the massive job losses resulting from Governor Kasich’s budget cuts and other attacks on middle class workers. If the Governor and his Republican cohorts in the legislature would put aside their extremist and divisive social agenda, and instead focus on job creation, we could be putting a lot more Ohioans back to work.”

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House Democrats Outline 2012 Priorities to Strengthen Middle Class

Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish and members of the House Democratic Caucus at a press conference announcing their legislative agenda for 2012. They will focus on jobs, communities, rights and opportunities to help Ohioans restore the American Dream.

Ohio House Democrats announced the beginning of their legislative agenda for 2012 to strengthen working and middle class families.  The priorities build upon the Compact with the Middle Class announced last year and focus specifically on four categories – jobs, communities, rights and opportunities.

“While Statehouse Republicans continue their overreaching partisan priorities, House Democrats are committed to common-sense solutions that put working and middle class families first,” said House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D-Beachwood).  “We will place a renewed focus this year on creating jobs, rebuilding Ohio communities, protecting the rights of Ohioans and improving education and workforce training opportunities.”

The legislative initiatives are a mix of new proposals and several bills that have already been introduced by House Democrats. The new bills include a Local Government Jobs Fund, a Community Foreclosure Protection Fund, a Voter’s Bill of Rights and the Ohioans Back to Work Program.  House Democrats will be introducing additional legislation in the coming weeks focused on putting working and middle class families first. 

“For the last year, Statehouse Republicans have been turning over state assets to private companies and giving away state tax dollars to special interest friends,” said Minority Whip Tracy Heard.  “Instead of leaving behind working families and hurting local communities, our priorities will help Ohioans restore the American Dream. 

Creating jobs continues to be a top priority for House Democrats.  The Community Jobs Protection Fund will help communities return cops and firefighters to the streets by dedicating every new dollar of state revenue back to local communities.  House Democrats have also developed the JobsOhio Accountability Act to ensure oversight and accountability of taxpayer dollars going to companies seeking state support. 

“Rather than balancing the budget on the backs of local communities and taking away workers’ rights, women’s rights and voters’ rights, our priorities will restore some balance in Ohio between Republican special interests and middle class families,” said Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon). 

Additionally, House Democrats have also proposed a new Ohio Voter’s Bill of Rights, improvements to help workers and new protections for healthcare patients against rate increases and claim denials. Greater protections for education funding are addressed through increased accountability measures and a new workforce training program has also been proposed.

“These priorities represent a continuation of our efforts to stand up for working and middle class families throughout Ohio,” said State Rep. Debbie Phillips. 

An outline of the House Democratic priorities is listed below.  Additional bills focused on jobs, communities, rights and opportunities will be introduced in the coming weeks.

Gov. Kasich’s “Toll road for lease” plan hits bump in the road

The Kasich administration has been moving full speed ahead in privatizing state assets and the most recent target is the Ohio Turnpike, the 241 mile toll road that runs the entire length of the northern end of the state.  The Governor’s attempt at selling the state to private corporations has received no shortage of criticism across the state from lawmakers, citizens and editorial boards.  

Last week, Gov. Kasich’s plan hit a new speed bump.  The Governor had planned to use federal funding in part of his plan to privatize the Turnpike.  However, Ohio’s Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood challenging Kasich’s authority to utilize federal resources to advance his privatization agenda.  After review Secretary LaHood determined that federal resources may not be used for such purposes.

State Representatives along the Turnpike applauded Secretary LaHood’s decision and the work of Ohio’s Democratic congressional delegation.  Ohio House Assistant Minority Leader Matthew A. Szollosi of Toledo said, “The Ohio Turnpike belongs to the people of the State of Ohio, and that should not change simply because Gov. Kasich wants a one-time infusion of cash for use by his administration.   Based on what has happened in Indiana, motorists can expect a significant increase in tolls, maintenance of the turnpike will deteriorate, and toll workers can expect pink-slips.  Privatization of the Ohio Turnpike is a bad idea.”

State Rep. Teresa Fedor also from Toledo had this to say about the Governor’s plan, “Governor Kasich’s scheme to privatize the Turnpike has cost Ohio millions in revoked funds.  Federal Transportation officials said the Kasich administration misused the funds in a reckless effort to privatize the Ohio Turnpike.  If Gov. Kasich succeeds tolls will rise, and traveling commuters, truckers and others who use the Turnpike will essentially pay an un-voted tax increase.  Those who stand to benefit the most are the investment bankers who could make a killing off this scheme.  Gov. Kasich needs to quit putting Wall Street bankers ahead of Ohio voters.”

Then over the weekend the Toledo Blade published another editorial criticizing Gov. Kasich’s privatization of the state.  Excerpts of the editorial follow:

“The rush to cash in on leasing the Ohio Turnpike hit a bump in the road last week. It won’t stop Gov. John Kasich’s administration, but it does keep the issue in the public eye and make it less likely that Ohioans will wake up one morning to find that they no longer control the toll road they paid for.

“Mr. Kasich has made no secret of his desire to privatize the turnpike, along with liquor profits, prisons, and other state assets…

“…In the long run, leasing money-making enterprises will cost the state billions of dollars in revenue that will need to be replaced. In the case of the turnpike, many Ohioans also are concerned that tolls will rise, as many as 1,000 jobs will be lost, and turnpike maintenance will suffer. If that happens, more traffic — especially big trucks — will use parallel secondary roads, increasing maintenance costs and making those roads less safe.

“Last week, several Democratic members of Ohio’s congressional delegation who oppose the turnpike lease plan questioned the use of federal highway funds to explore lease opportunities…

The [Kasich] administration’s initial request said vaguely that a federal grant would be used to study how leasing assets works in other states, without mentioning the Ohio Turnpike at all. It deserved to be turned down as a ham-handed attempt to game the system.

“If the governor continues to believe leasing the turnpike is a good idea, let him come up with a transparent source of funding to study the issue — although preferably not by putting his hands in the pockets of local governments again. Commission a full, nonpartisan examination at least as comprehensive as a preliminary study released last March by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, which concluded that leasing the turnpike had little benefit and a lot of “likely negative outcomes.”

…”

Read the full editorial here.

Ohio gerrymander another GOP overreach

The Toledo Blade’s weekend editorial “Ohio gerrymandering another GOP overreach” is exactly what is happening here in Ohio.   The Republicans have rammed through countless extreme bills with Gov. Kasich at the helm and there is no sign of them slowing down. 

The new congressional redistricting map introduced and passed through the House in less than 48 hours and the proposed GOP drawn legislative maps will likely only further the political dysfunction we see in Columbus and Washington.  Blade Editor Dave Kushma wrote, “…The Republican elected officials in the Statehouse who are redrawing the districts for Ohio’s U.S. House delegation and General Assembly have made clear that their priority is making their party even more dominant. Promoting fair, competitive, and effective representation of Ohio voters for the next decade — especially in our part of the state — isn’t their concern.”

Democratic voters are being quarantined into roughly a third of the legislative districts and four congressional seats.  The result being some group votes will count significantly more than others.   In this broad and diverse state this kind of gerrymandering “turns the notion of proportional representation into a sick joke.”

Kushma continues writing, “On this issue and too many others, Gov. John Kasich and GOP lawmakers have adopted an “in your face — we’ve got the votes” approach that defies opponents to do anything about their overreaching.

“They identified worthwhile changes to the state’s collective-bargaining process for public employees and included them in Senate Bill 5. But then, because they could, they larded the law with union-busting provisions that have nothing to do with saving money or running government more efficiently. That generated a ballot challenge in November.

“Similarly, GOP lawmakers passed an election “reform” law this year aimed at voter fraud that doesn’t exist. The real intent of the measure is to make it harder for folks who generally don’t vote Republican to vote at all.

“And now the map flap. Although the controversy over the new congressional districts has dominated the debate in Columbus, the state Apportionment Board plans to vote this week on new legislative districts.

…”

Read the full editorial here.

Dems Call for Slow Down of Redistricting Process

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde sent a letter to Rep. Matt Huffman, Chairman of the State Government and Elections Subcommittee on Redistricting, calling for a slow down on the process to pass a new congressional redistricting map.  In the letter Rep. Clyde states, “We need to step back and take the time to do this right with bipartisan support for whatever plan the legislature adopts.  We’ll need an emergency clause to act no matter our course of action, so there is no reason why we cannot take additional time for hearings and discussion.  Failure to do so ensures protracted legal battles, public confusion and uncertainty for voters and candidates across the state.”

A copy of the full letter appears below.

Dear Chairman Huffman,

I write to call your attention to the legal chaos that we are heading for at high speed.  With success looking more and more likely on the effort to referendum HB 194, we are almost certain to have a big problem with the timeline of upcoming election deadlines.  Without bipartisan cooperation, we will hit the December 7 candidate filing deadline for next year’s elections without first having the new congressional district lines in place.  Candidates will be required to file their candidate petitions by December 7 under the old congressional district plan and there is no provision in law to prevent this paradox. 

The primary is scheduled for March 6, 2012.  HB 194 would have moved the primary to May but that bill is likely to be on hold until November 2010.  The candidate filing deadline will be December 7, 2011, only 86 days away and within the typical 90-day waiting period before bills take effect.  Only a bipartisan vote of 66 members of the House can make a law take effect immediately and avoid the legal chaos that will ensue if changes are not made in time. 

Redistricting is moving fast and, despite the pleas of the public that we all heard when we traveled the state for regional hearings, the map under consideration has not been released to the public nor to members of the State Government and Elections committee.  Meanwhile, we have a possible vote scheduled for less than 48 hours from now. 

We need to step back and take the time to do this right with bipartisan support for whatever plan the legislature adopts.  We’ll need an emergency clause to act no matter our course of action, so there is no reason why we cannot take additional time for hearings and discussion.  Failure to do so ensures protracted legal battles, public confusion and uncertainty for voters and candidates across the state.  Politicians’ drawing the lines for maximum political advantage is not fair and has delivered extreme policies in Ohio and partisan posturing in Washington.  We can do better. 

Respectfully,

Kathleen Clyde
State Representative
House District 68

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“This Labor Day, resolve to stand in solidarity with Ohio’s working families”

Great column from the Toledo Blade on Issue 2 as Labor Day weekend approaches.  Commentary writer Marilou Johanek talks about SB5’s assault on Ohio’s working families. Excerpts of the article are below.  

“Labor Day, 2011, will be touchy in Ohio. It marks the official beginning of an epic state battle that pits working people, unions, and Democrats against business interests, Republicans, and Gov. John Kasich.

“It’s a fight Ohioans didn’t ask for and certainly don’t need. They need jobs, not an all-out war against public employees launched along party lines.

“But GOP legislators in Columbus, taking a cue from their partisan brethren in other polarized statehouses across the country, are on a roll. They aim to swing as far to the right as House and Senate votes will allow.

“Their contentious ‘to-do’ list includes wiping out collective bargaining among state employees, which has little to do with pressing public concerns about topics from the economy to education.

“But the strategy of conservative ideologues is to strike while the iron is hot, to gain the political upper hand on party priorities while the GOP maintains majority status. The state’s Republican lawmakers exploited a budget crisis this year to pass a highly partisan measure that is hugely unpopular among most Ohioans.

“But GOP legislators went on the attack with public employee unions because they could. Senate Bill 5, signed by Governor Kasich in March, significantly weakens the rights and threatens the wages and benefits of more than 350,000 teachers, police officers, state employees, and other public workers.

“Contrary to what SB 5 defenders claim, the measure is not reform. It is extreme political posturing masquerading as responsible policy making. It was the last straw for fed-up voters.

“The revolt was on. Finally. A citizen-initiated ballot referendum to repeal the law had no trouble getting signatures in each of Ohio’s 88 counties to qualify for a statewide vote…

“Of the roughly 1.3 million Ohioans who signed petitions to place a repeal of Ohio’s new collective bargaining law on the ballot, 915,000 signatures were certified. Now it’s up to voters to decide whether a partisan assault on working families will proceed.

“It was a punitive, unnecessary, unfair broadside against labor. From the very beginning, it was an affront to working people in the state. But employees, both union and nonunion, public and private sector, have an innate sense of foul play.

“By now, many also are aware of how Republican governors use Republican legislative majorities to extract political retribution with preordained agendas. It was widespread anger over government actions, which didn’t reflect public values, that fueled the drive to repeal SB 5.

“In a speech, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, called the Nov. 8 vote on the referendum, known as Issue 2, “the most important election in America in terms of sending a message to the radical leadership of the Republican Party.” But it will be an ugly multimillion-dollar means to an end.

“The campaigns to pan or preserve SB 5 will attract big money and big attention nationwide as a bellwether of Republican strength in the 2012 presidential race…

“But polls show Ohioans get it. Whatever one thinks about the need to reform the public sector, SB 5 is over-the-top severe. Lawmakers went too far in the guise of cutting costs.

“Watch as proponents make a sucker punch to the middle class sound positively praiseworthy. Do not be misled.

“On this Labor Day, resolve to stand in solidarity with Ohio’s working families and against those in power determined to diminish them — and us.”

Read the full article here.


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