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