Kasich, GOP Schemes Victimize Northern, Eastern and Especially Northeast Ohio

By Murrowmaven

 

Northern Ohio and eastern Ohio are being harmed by the hypocritical policies of Gov. Kasich and the Republican legislature, and northeast Ohio is being hit with a double-whammy.

First, let’s look at the Ohio Turnpike, the lifeblood transportation route through northern Ohio. Ohio taxpayers originally were promised that the superhighway eventually would become toll-free after the initial bonds were repaid by tolls. That was delayed when new bonds were issued to widen and modernize the turnpike.

Now the Republican majorities in the Ohio House and Senate voted at Kasich’s behest to hike the tolls (taxes) for the purpose of issuing new bonds that will funnel turnpike revenue into non-turnpike highway projects.

The lion’s share of the money is supposed to go to northern Ohio projects, but one wonders if the same scam will be worked here that was done with Ohio Lottery money. Remember, Ohio Lottery profits were supposed to all go to public education. They did, but other state money that had gone to public education was shifted elsewhere.

The recently passed Ohio transportation bill totals $7.6 billion. My guess is that northern Ohio will get little more than the $1.5 billion gleaned from the turnpike. Shades of the lottery flimflam.

It will cost a lot more to use the turnpike for commercial and non-commercial drivers and this will serve as a deterrent to economic growth in northern Ohio. Meanwhile, I-70, the state’s other main east-west interstate route, that runs through central Ohio, will remain free and an even more attractive way to do business than the turnpike.

If Kasich and his allies respected Ohio’s traditions and Ohio’s history, they would have voted to make the turnpike free for all, instead of monetizing it. Making the turnpike free would have leveled the playing field between northern and central Ohio.

If Kasich and company had read about the problems that Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois are having with their monetized toll roads, they would never have gone down that “road.”

Kasich said, correctly, that Ohio needs money for highway projects, but then delayed for 27 months action to obtain needed money. He could have engineered a modest increase in the gasoline tax two years ago to raise the needed money and many of the projects would be under way if not done by now instead of delaying for two years, messing with the turnpike, and putting a damper on economic development in northern Ohio.

Second, let us look at the severance tax that Kasich wants to impose on eastern Ohio that is in the midst of an oil and gas drilling boom. Most of eastern Ohio has been in an economic slump for several decades. The drilling boom is restoring economic vitality to the region and Kasich wants to slap a big tax on it.

We all know that a major stated principle of Kasich and the Republican legislature is that tax cuts spur economic development.

It turns out that these folks are hypocrites because not only do they want to significantly raise the drilling tax, but also they want to raise sales taxes on certain professions and business.

We do know that business decisions are based on taxes, so by threatening new taxes on energy production, Kasich runs the risk of scaring off the oil exploration industry, the jobs it is creating and the wealth it is providing to eastern Ohioans.

Third, northeast Ohio bears the burden of the misguided policies of Kasich and the Republicans who control the Ohio Legislature.

The Ohio Turnpike and the energy exploration region intersect in northeast Ohio and hence that region is getting a double-whammy of economic pain — higher turnpike tolls and higher drilling fees.

The schemes of Kasich and the Republican legislature are bad for all Ohioans and even worse for residents of the northern and eastern regions of the state.

 

(Murrowmaven is a lifelong Ohioan.)

 
  • cbuskid

    Instead of making the turnpike free for all, Ohio should start putting tolls on I70 as well. Highway maintenance is expensive and we are short on funds. It only seems right that the users should pay for the privilege of using it.

  • And why are we short of funds? The cowardice of the legislature and state executives about raising gas taxes, natch. Oh, God, we can’t boost gas taxes, so instead, let’s start charging for driving our major highways. No problem. Nobody minds stopping at toll booths on a major trip. And nobody objects to having a credit card charged for a trip in Ohio. And lookie — no new tax increases. Aren’t we clever?

  • Red Rover

    What makes it such a privilege for the public to use our own roads? People already are having enough trouble making ends meet without having to keep toll cash on hand to drive on the road their taxes already pay for.

  • BathtubGin

    It’s not an either/or proposition. Toll I70 and raise the gas tax.

  • BathtubGin

    What makes it such a privilege for private individuals to pollute the environment and the air we breathe? Make them pay through the nose! Make the car potato lifestyle unaffordable and uncompetitive. At the very least, do not subsidize it.

  • BathtubGin

    This is perhaps the most misguided post I have ever read on the Plunderbund. We need more roads with user fees, not less. And we have a captive market with the natural gas shale, which should be taxed for all it’s worth. If we are going to risk earthquakes and ground water pollution, we sure as hell better get as much out of it as we can! If we are rejecting federal funds for rail projects because “no one will ride”, we are subsidizing personal automobile transportation too much!

    Raising the gas tax is important, as it incentivizes people to get more fuel efficient cars. But it doesn’t cut at the core of all the social, economic, and environmental problems associated with auto dependence and suburban sprawl the way tolls and mile taxes do.

  • anastasjoy

    I agree, cbuskid, and I’ve been saying this for a while. Having the east-west route in one part of the state tolled and in another not is a serious tilting of the economic playing field. Either make the turnpike free, or slap a toll on I-70. Nothing else is fair or just.

  • Red Rover

    As much as you might dislike it, driving a car is the way of life in the U.S. You can thank car companies, oil companies, and the government for that. But you can’t just take it away without offering some viable alternative. That’s a good way to ruin people’s livelihoods. I’d love it if I could take the subway to work in Cincinnati. We don’t have one, and one isn’t going to spring up overnight. The likelihood of it getting close enough to both my house and workplace is very low. Subways and light rail also don’t reach rural areas, which cover most of our state. You can’t spout off about competition on ways to travel when there isn’t any.

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