Kasich is making an announcement this afternoon regarding his deal with the casinos and as Budget Watcher points out, it seems very likely that video lottery terminals (VLTs aka slot machines) are probably going to be allowed at Ohio’s race tracks. I recommend you read the Ohio Budget Watch post. As with many, many other issues, I think you’ll be very surprised how accurate their predictions turn out to be.
Regarding the VLTs, I thought maybe I’d cover a little background and touch on some recent issues that are suddenly being resolved to make way for Kasich’s likely plan to allow them at race tracks.
If you remember back during the last budget, Governor Strickland planned to allow VLTs at race tracks and to use the expected revenue to help balance the budget instead of raising taxes.
Republican operatives formed a group, called LetOhioVote.com, specifically intended to keep Governor Strickland from implementing VLTs – forcing him to look for other ways to balance his budget.
After spending millions in undisclosed contributions to collect enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot, they promptly cancelled their ballot initiative after Secretary of State Brunner started and investigation into their funding sources.
No one really believed the group was ever concerned with really preventing the state from implementing VLTs. The purpose was purely political – to force Strickland to raise taxes to balance the budget (which he didn’t) – and pulling the initiative from the ballot was the proof.
Once Kasich was elected he brought Carlo LoParo, spokesman for LetOhioVote.com, on to his team as spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
And the wife of David Hansen – another key member of the LetOhioVote effort – became John Kasich’s Chief-of-Staff. Beth Hansen got a huge pay raise, receiving $170,000, more than the Governor himself is paid.
But the case of the funding was still outstanding. SOS Brunner was trying to subpoena two men, Tim Crawford and Norm Cummings, to provide information on the funding source for LetOhioVote.com before she left office.
The case has been tied up in court, and LetOhioVote.com has argued that the Ohio SOS doesn’t have the power to subpoena these men because they live out of state.
Suddenly, the day before Kasich is about to announce that he’s going to allow VLTs, despite the fact that his Republican friends spent millions against implementing them under the previous administration, the court rules in favor of LetOhioVote.com, Cummings and Crawford claiming that “Ohio’s secretary of state does not have the authority to issue subpoenas beyond the state line when investigating potential campaign-finance violations.”
It’s unlikely SOS Husted is going to rock the boat and continue the case against fellow Republicans from LetOhioVote.com, especially as the 2012 election cycle heats up, but it does seem worth mentioning that today’s ruling should NOT apply to Norm Cummings.
While Cummings does own a house in Virginina, he also owns a house in Ohio that, according to county property records, is listed as Cummings primary residence for which he gets the Owner Occupied property tax Reduction of 2.5%.
According to the auditor’s office to receive the 2.5% homestead tax reduction:
You must own and occupy your home as your principal place of residence
A person only has one principal place of residence.
Your principal place of residence determines, among other things, where you are registered to vote and where you declare residency for income tax purposes.
Since Norm obviously lives, votes and pays his income taxes in Ohio this kind of makes LetOhioVote.com’s argument against issuing subpoenas out of state moot, right?
I guess the take away from this little story is that Ohio’s Republicans can be pretty damn hypocritical: pretending to oppose slot machines and gambling in order to prevent the Democratic Governor from balancing his budget while hiding the funding (which most likely came from Casino owners who don’t want to compete with slots at racetracks). And then, suddenly, giving up the effort and going to work for the new, Republican governor who plans to do the exact same as the previous Governor.