Kasich targets tax reform, fracking, turnpike as end-of-year priorities

By Marc Kovac



Bank-tax reform, an increase in the tax on oil and gas production and the possible privatization of the Ohio Turnpike are among issues Gov. John Kasich sees heading into the post-election legislative lame-duck session.

Kasich told Statehouse reporters this week that anything that doesn’t get done in the final weeks of the General Assembly will be pushed into the new one next year, potentially becoming part of his next biennial budget.

Kasich said he planned to meet with legislative leaders this week to discuss the final weeks of the session and the potential passage of certain bills. Among them were:

Financial institutions tax: Kasich said his aim is to close loopholes that larger banks have used to avoid paying taxes.

“We certainly want people who have not been paying their taxes to pay their taxes so that those small business people can pay less,” he said.

Kasich offered a reform proposal as part of his mid-biennium budget earlier this year. The House moved a separate bill on the issue, and the governor hopes lawmakers will finalize the law changes before the end of the year.

Frack tax: Kasich continues to push for an increase in taxes on oil and gas produced via horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, saying his proposed rates would still be less than other states. The governor would use the proceeds from the tax increase to implement a corresponding cut to Ohio’s income-tax rates.

Republican lawmakers have balked at the idea, however, and many still do not support it, saying it could stifle the emerging industry.

Ohio Turnpike: Within the next month or so, the results of a multimillion-dollar study will be released outlining potential options for privatizing the Ohio Turnpike.

Kasich hasn’t offered specifics on what the state will end up doing on the issue, though he told reporters, “It’s going to be really cool when you hear. ... It’s like Thanksgiving; it’s on its way.”

Kasich and other state officials have long talked about the possibility of leasing the turnpike to provide an infusion of funding for repair, maintenance and new road construction.

Kasich has said that at least half the proceeds from any such transaction should go to road and bridge projects north of U.S. Highway 30, as well as for covering the costs of projects along the turnpike and for public transit systems.

Kasich also has said repeatedly that he will not move forward with the privatization if it isn’t in the best interest of the state. The state hired a private consultant earlier this year to study the issue. The results are expected in the next 30 to 40 days.

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