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Battle lines over economy



Published: Sat, January 18, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

COLUMBUS

The next 10 months will be dominated by talk of the state economy.

Depending on what side of the political fence you reside, you will have a different interpretation of how things are going here in Ohio after the oft-mentioned Great Recession.

If you are a Republican — using that term somewhat loosely, given the ongoing discontent Tea Party and other conservatives have with the establishment at the moment — then you will tout policies that have pulled a dead state from a ditch and placed it back on the road to recovery, despite continuing “headwinds” from Washington. The latter is important to remember, because no Republican office-holder in his or her right mind will say their work on economic matters is done.

If you are a Democrat, you will point out that Ohio was on the mend before the present administration took over, unemployment stats are heading in the wrong direction and local governments are suffering. You can’t log onto the social media network of your choice without reading some sort of attack from the Ohio Democratic Party on the governor and GOP-controlled Legislature’s policy choices and the resulting economic consequences.

Political perspective

But, again, it all depends on your political perspective. Both will try to convince the electorate of their position and offer plenty of convincing evidence why they are right and the other side is wrong.

By the time you’re done reading this, my email in-box will be full of angry messages seeking to convince me of their position, so I can only imagine the political ads and robo-calls and mailers that will be heading your way in coming weeks and months.

If you go to Medina next month for Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State speech, I’m sure you’ll hear his position, which he’s offered repeatedly — the $8 billion budget hole his administration filled, the nearly $1.5 billion in the state’s formerly depleted rainy day fund, the turnpike and other plans to improve roads and bridges and other stuff, the coming capital budget with local projects for the first time in years, and on and on and on.

“At the end of the day, you look at the state, and you say, ‘How are we doing?’” the governor said during a press conference last week. “Over the course of my term, we’re ninth in the country in economic growth. Local communities are doing better. Our funding for K-12 [education] is the largest increase in a decade. The infrastructure projects, they all speak for themselves.”

But don’t try to get the governor to respond to attacks from his expected Democratic challenger, because Kasich takes the public high road on such queries.

One Statehouse reporter tried during a press event last week.

“I don’t worry about any of that stuff,” he said. “At the end of the day, an election is really a vote on how you think the incumbent’s doing, so I really don’t pay any attention. ...”

He added, “We have 11.5 million people, we have a lot of challenges that are still out there. And that’s where my focus is. It’s not on all this ankle-biting stuff that goes on.”

Marc Kovac is The Vindicator’s Courthouse correspondent. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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