By Marc Kovac
Last of a three-part series
Gov. John Kasich has made no secret about his desire to reduce — and someday eliminate outright — Ohio’s income taxes.
He was not cryptic during a speech before chamber of commerce groups recently, urging business leaders to pick up the banner and be more vocal about the issue.
“I would encourage you as members of the chamber to always be for tax cuts,” he said. “I haven’t always seen that over the last few years.”
“We have to do it,” Kasich continued. “If you want Ohio to move faster, we have to reduce this personal income tax. Seventeen billion dollars walked out of this state since 1995. Where’s it go? Anybody want to guess? Florida, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee. Guess what all of them have in common: no income tax. We need to reduce these taxes for another way in which we can encourage people to move to our state. ... Promise me you’ll be for tax cuts. We can debate where it ought to be, but at the end of the day, you have to get to that conclusion.”
The governor wants to do more to enhance Ohio’s image to residents elsewhere, enlisting the help of a big-name Columbus businessman to spearhead the effort.
“We do have an issue with image,” he said. “And I’m pleased to say that [Limited Brands CEO] Lex Wexner has agreed to take a look at a marketing plan for our state, because sometimes when people live in California, I don’t want their spouse getting worked up if they wanted to move into somewhere in Ohio [because we] don’t have an ocean. We’ve got to tell them, once they get here what they’re going to have. And you know what? When people get on an airplane and they move to Ohio, they never leave. It’s getting them here to understand what we have, and Lex Wexner is going to help us to put together a marketing plan. And you might say why Lex Wexner? Well, I have two daughters, and they’re not playing football, but if I had a son and he was going to play football and Peyton Manning said, ‘Hey, let me show him how to pass,’ I think I’d take him up on it, OK? So I don’t know if we’re going to have a Victoria’s Secret-type marketing plan for Ohio, but it isn’t a bad thought is it? Talk about cool and exciting, we’ll see. ...
“When people get to Ohio, when they realize, one, there’s no traffic. Some of you may think there’s traffic, there’s no traffic. Two, the cost of living is so much lower here than it is on the coasts and even in places like Chicago. Three, we have great schools. Four, we’ve got neighborhoods that are terrific. But the issue is how do you get them here. When they’re out somewhere on the East or West Coast and they’ve got an ocean and, of course, it costs them a fortune to live there. How do you tell people about what we have? ... We have to let them know about this, because once they know, they want to be here. And there is an element of cool.”
Kasich said his administration will continue to focus on prescription-drug abuse, adding to policy decisions implemented in recent years to shut down pill mills, hold doctors more accountable for the state’s addiction epidemic and keep better track of opioids distributed in Ohio’s communities.
“Do you know that the problem of drug addiction is everywhere?” Kasich asked. “You know that? Our young people have moved from Oxycontin to heroin, and it’s everywhere, and it breaks your heart. And some kids caught in that trap ... it is not easy to get out. It threatens to destroy families and destroy lives and their God-given purpose. ... Beginning of the year, you’re going to hear about a program we’re taking to every school, to all the parents across the state of Ohio. It’s already started. ... The highway patrol meeting with all the sports teams so they can go into the schools and talk about the dangers of drugs. And we need to give them a reason to say no. Just saying no doesn’t work. ... We have to give our children a chance to say no, and when mothers and fathers talk to their children extensively about drugs, there’s a reduction in usage. You’re going to hear about a big program. It’s exciting.”
The governor continued to tout the school-reform plan implemented in Cleveland and urged other communities to undertake comparable efforts.
“The school plan, reform plan, that passed Cleveland is a miracle ...,” he said. “You want to fix your schools, folks? You want to put children first? You bring us your reform plan, because the best kind of education reform in a state is when it comes from the bottom up. They tried it in Columbus, they’re going to keep at it in Columbus. Youngstown? ... How many times do we have to say, Youngstown, bring us a school-reform plan so children are not left behind. Build a coalition in your communities to fix your schools, and we will help you. ... Bring us your plans.”