By Marc Kovac
Last of a four-part series
Gov. John Kasich appar- ently is done offering endorsements in the GOP presidential primary.
Kasich was an early backer of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and reportedly urged New Jersey Chris Christie to run, too.
But neither of those officeholders are in the race, and Kasich told reporters recently he did not have plans to publicly support other individual candidates during the primary season.
“Everybody I endorse either didn’t run or dropped out, so what does that tell you?” he joked, adding, “I’ve watched a little bit of the debates. I do read about it on Politico and Fox News and Real Clear Politics. I read about some of it. But, no, my comments wouldn’t serve me well and probably not the people I comment on well.”
Kasich made the comments during a recent year-end speech and short question-and-answer session with reporters, where he touted his administration’s accomplishments during his first year in office and answered questions on a variety of topics:
Capital Budget Projects
“We’re going to be looking at how we do community projects going forward,” Kasich said. “I think we need a whole new system on community projects. To some degree — not all, because there’s a lot of great community projects — but to some degree, it’s been about pork, pass out money and what do we get. We’re going to be thinking about the way in which we do community projects, because I think they’re important ... but right now, we’re in tough times. And, frankly, the reaction that I’ve received from people ... people say, ‘Hey, we can understand why you can’t do a big fat capital bill, and it’s not the time to do it.’”
Energy Policy Changes
“There will be additional reforms of government. There will be energy policies. [Public Utilities Commission Chairman] Todd Snitchler is going to be bringing forward a really interesting thing that has to do with statewide sharing of energy costs. One of the battles we have in the state is Tennessee can offer very low energy costs to companies. Those companies that chew up a lot of energy ... we can share those costs among the AEP [American Electric Power] customers, but if we can share those costs statewide, we can offer up an even better deal, spread the costs throughout the state.”
“If we can get the magic number, which starts with a ‘B,’ billions, and we would commit to spend over 50 percent of that money north of [Route 30], and that number could be flexible, it could go up a little bit.
“We would go to the communities along the turnpike that have been ignored since the turnpike’s been there, that we in fact can invest all this money in infrastructure ... because we’re a state that makes things. We need to be able to ship things. [If those things happen], we’ll move forward with it. But we are working very, very carefully with stakeholders across the state. We need money to fix our roads. And we’ll see how it goes. We will not have a vote for a long time, because we’re laying the groundwork for being able to get this done. ... We will not release the underlying ownership of the state of Ohio. When it comes to tolls, when it comes to the maintenance of the road, all that can be accommodated in a contract, and we’ll be fine and we’ll do the right thing. If it doesn’t work out and we don’t get the money, it’ll be like the prisons — we sold one prison, not five.”
Potential for More Tax Cuts
“You take somebody who built a business and they go to sell some of their business and they pay capital gains. If they live in Florida they pay 15 percent, if they live in [Ohio] they pay 21 percent. Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that people would rather give the government 15 percent rather than 21. ... You know how I feel about the income tax — slowly but surely bring it down. As we get more revenue, as we have more opportunity to generate more jobs and if we start running these surpluses like I hope we would ... then I think the people should get some of their money back. Let’s just now take a breath, celebrate what we’ve done, think about the future, but I’m not prepared to make any decisions about that at this point.”