Ex-Ohio governor, congressman dies

Associated Press


Former Ohio Gov. and U.S. Rep. John J. Gilligan, a liberal Democrat whose creation of the state income tax was his most lasting accomplishment and also the undoing of his political career, died Monday. He was 92.

Gilligan’s death was confirmed by his caregiver, Frank Kennedy, who did not provide a cause of death.

Gilligan’s daughter Kathleen Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, in 2009 became Health and Human Services secretary under President Barack Obama.

“Jack Gilligan lived his life in service to his fellow Americans,” Obama said in a statement.

“Kathleen followed in the high tradition of public service that Jack set, and they became the first father-daughter team of governors in American history,” Obama said.

Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Gilligan “served with honor and distinction” and ordered flags lowered to half-staff until the day of Gilligan’s funeral.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner offered his condolences to Gilligan’s family.

“Governor Gilligan served our state with passion and was a committed public servant,” Boehner said in a statement. “Ohioans of all political stripes are saddened by the news of his passing.”

Gilligan, a teacher, became the state’s 62nd governor in 1970, a year in which Republicans suffered from a loan scandal in the state treasurer’s office.

He inherited a school funding problem in which 24 districts had closed for lack of operating money and more were expected to follow suit.

Gilligan persuaded legislators to enact the state’s first corporate and personal income tax in 1971 to raise money for dealing with those and other government priorities.

During the tax battle, he closed state parks to save money. The move may have turned up heat on legislators, but it also caused a public uproar.

Gilligan also presided over creation of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, passage of stripmine reclamation laws and division of the prison and mental health agencies into separate departments.

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