By Marc Kovac
Their ranks were a lot smaller compared with last year’s State of the State, but the few protesters outside the hall where Gov. John Kasich offered his annual address to lawmakers were vocal in their opposition to his policies and budget proposals.
“Local governments are required to provide more and more services — fire, EMS, maintain cemeteries and parks, etc. — services that affect our citizens daily and do it with less and less money,” said Theresa Allen, a former township trustee from Hardin County. “We deserve to have that money given back to us.”
Allen was among about a dozen protesters in Lima on Tuesday, offering comments to reporters during a shortened press conference among snow flurries and blustery winds on the city’s central square.
They said the governor’s two-year, $63 billion spending plan would further hurt local governments and schools and provide tax cuts that would benefit the wealthiest residents.
“It’s not fair that we shoulder the majority of these taxes when the rich don’t have to,” said Shonda Sneed of Yellow Springs.
Statehouse Republicans and Kasich and his administration counter that the biennial budget proposal would result in a net tax cut of $1.4 billion. This would happen after a proposed income tax and sales-tax cut, oil and gas hike and a broadening of the sales tax to include additional services.
But protesters such as Dave Rabbe, a union worker at the Ford engine plant in Lima, weren’t buying it Tuesday.
“Right now, for us to continue to thrive in Ohio, we need Gov. Kasich to invest in the local communities,” Rabbe said, adding, “The state of the worker is not good. The budget shows ... John Kasich does not understand about or care about the struggles of the everyday Ohioan.”
Rabbe did acknowledge that the state’s manufacturing sector is on the rebound, with unemployment rates trending down and job-creation rates trending up. But he and others attributed the job growth to President Barack Obama’s policy decisions.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “The manufacturing base, I guess, is trending back. But that started two or three years ago with some agreements with the Big Three and the United Auto Workers, as far as bringing some jobs back into the state.”