Back in 2009 a group of former Blackwell staffers and Kasich allies started a group called Let Ohio Vote. They claimed they were concerned with a provision in the newly passed state budget that allowed video lottery terminals at Ohio’s racetracks. So concerned, in fact, that they felt the provision needed to be put on the ballot so Ohioans could decide if it was good for the state.
The VLT plan was developed with bi-partisan support from the Strickland administration and Republicans in the legislature and was intended to provide a long-term revenue stream for the state that would immediately help compensate for shrinking revenues during the recession without raising taxes. Despite broad support, Let Ohio Vote proceeded to raise millions from anonymous donors to block implementation of the plan.
Let Ohio Vote was successful in gathering signatures and getting their language approved but as soon as Kasich was elected, they pulled the issue from the ballot and were noticeably silent when Kasich turned around and did exactly the same thing. Members of the committee and their family members were quickly appointed to key positions in the Kasich administration.
Strickland’s plan (which Kasich implemented by getting a much worse deal for the state) provided long-term funding that actually expanded new businesses and increased state revenues without increasing the state’s debt or increasing taxes or fees on any existing businesses or residents. And some Republicans thought it was “controversial” enough that Ohioans needed to be able to vote on its implementation.
Today Kasich unveiled his plan for the Ohio turnpike that does the complete opposite. Not only will it raise tolls on the turnpike – specifically targeting independent truck drivers (aka small business owners) – he will use the money to take on a billion dollars in new debt to fund short-term projects.
If the Republicans running Let Ohio Vote seriously thought the Strickland plan for VLTs was so controversial that it needed to be subject to a referendum, then it’s clear Kasich’s turnpike plan – which goes against every small-government, no-new-taxes, pro-business belief Republicans claim to have – deserves to be put in front of voters as well.
Calling Carlo Loparo.