As John Kasich continues to hone his presidential campaign message for a national audience, one top theme seems to be emerging: John Kasich is a budget hawk who will cut taxes, decrease spending and eliminate the nation debt – just like he did in Ohio.


This isn’t just everyday political spin… it’s an outright lie.

Since taking office, Kasich has overseen an increase in Ohio’s debt burden and debt service payments, according to the Ohio Office of Budget and Management.   And he’s proposed some massive tax increases while increasing state spending by billions in each of his biennial budgets.

Democratic Governor Ted Strickland’s final proposed budget came it at around $50 Billion in General Revenue Fund spending.  The budget that followed, Kasich’s first,  increased spending by over $2 Billion.  And Kasich’s latest budget is now over $70 Billion.  So it should come as no surprise that Kasich’s fiscal policies have come under attack by conservative groups both in Ohio and nationally.

A 2013 report by the Conservative think tank Opportunity Ohio pointed out that from “Kasich’s first year to his fourth year, Ohio’s budget has grown by 20.1% or 6.7% each year” and “the budgetary growth under Governor Kasich is the largest increase during a gubernatorial term since 1991.”  And the conservative, anti-tax Cato Institute gave Kasich “the worst score of any governor in the country on spending” in 2014 because of his massive, double-digit spending increases that are far about the national average.

Oh, and on that tax cutting thing?  As Crain’s Business Cleveland points out, Kasich doesn’t really cut taxes, he just shifts them around.  “Gov. John Kasich likes to portray himself as a tax-cutting crusader,” they write. “It is a misleading representation. He is more an illusionist, a master of taxation sleight of hand.”

Crain’s points to the fact that Kasich’s proposed income tax decrease was accompanied by his plan “to raise the Commercial Activity Tax by 15%, increase the severance tax on oil and gas production to 2.75%, and boost Ohio’s cigarette tax by 48%.”

Kasich’s initial budget proposal for 2016-2017 contained $5.2 billion in tax increases. In the end the Republican-controlled legislature in Ohio dismantled most of Kasich’s tax plans, effectively trashing his budget proposal for one of their own.

Since taking office in Ohio, Governor John Kasich has increased state spending, increased state debt and proposed increases to a wide variety of taxes on Ohioans and Ohio businesses.

Budget Hawk?

Not so much.