Ohio’s Conservatives are not happy with John Kasich’s plan to raise taxes on oil and gas companies and they might turn out to be the loudest opponents of the governor’s recently released turnpike plans as well.

In a letter to Kasich this week, Tom Zawistowski, President of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, called the governor’s reasoning for raising the severance tax on oil and gas companies “disingenuous”, “not consistent with conservative values” and “quite offensive to those of us in the conservative movement who supported your election.”

Chris Littleton called the severance tax plan a “wealth redistribution scheme”.

And when Kasich said Ohio should keep oil and gas workers from other states out of Ohio, OhioWatchdog’s John Cassidy called the comments “deeply un-American” and compared Kasich to Hugo Chavez. “It’s obvious that Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, doesn’t believe in free markets.”

Conservatives don’t like Kasich’s severance tax plan because they say it puts an extra burden on companies doing business in Ohio and it redistributes money from businesses to individuals.

His turnpike plan appears to do exactly the same thing.

While we won’t know for sure until a bill is introduced, Kasich has vowed (as we predicted two days ago) to protect local drivers who travel fewer than 30 miles on the turnpike while planning to raise fees on truck drivers and trucking companies, many of whom travel to Ohio from other states, and who use the road for commerce.

Kasich wants the Ohio Turnpike to raise its tolls so he can use that revenue stream to fund other projects. Effectively, this is a tax increase pretending to be a fee and it’s aimed directly at small business owners like truck drivers as well as interstate travelers.

Politically, this is the easiest tax increase to propose because it appears not to impact potential Ohio voters. But it certainly may spark a backlash from his already pissed off base who should be wondering how tax increases on out-of-state businesses, and taking on more debt to pay for short-term spending, fits into the world view of a guy who claims economic success results from lower taxes, less government spending and an increasingly streamlined government that supports the free market.

We’ll have to wait and see how well Kasich’s new-found populist attitude plays with the voters, which is essentially who this plan is aimed at. But it seems clear conservatives will have some major issues with Kasich’s latest proposal.

 

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