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Treasurer rips Kasich goal of tax phase-out

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Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz called the tax phase-out idea reckless.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz joined a Democratic chorus yesterday attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich's goal of phasing out the state's income tax.

Although Mr. Kasich has spoken only in generalities, Mr. Kapszukiewicz said a plan by state Rep. John Adams (R., Sidney) provides a good road map to what Mr. Kasich has in mind.

"Given the cuts that we have already made, the impact that Congressman Kasich's reckless tax plan would have on our community would be disastrous," Mr. Kapszukiewicz said during a news conference in the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

He said libraries would lose money and local governments would have to cut services for schools, public safety, and other functions or raise local taxes.

Mr. Kasich, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is running against Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz based his prediction on an analysis of Mr. Adams' bill by the nonpartisan Ohio Legislative Services Commission.

Under Mr. Adams' proposal, the income tax would be reduced by 10 percent a year, starting in 2011. Counties, other local governments, and libraries would lose a combined $79 million in 2011, according to the analysis.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said eliminating the state income tax would cost the state $12 billion by 2020. On a local level, it would decrease state government funding to Lucas County from $23.7 million to $12.9 million and library funding in the county from $15.3 million to $8.2 million.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said other Democrats made similar statements in other counties around Ohio. He said he was asked to do so by state Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern in advance of Governor Strickland's State of the State address today.

Mr. Kasich has talked for about a year of his support for eliminating the income tax, but has not committed to a plan as specific as Mr. Adams', nor has he explained how or if he would replace the lost revenue.

Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Mr. Kasich, said Mr. Kasich agrees philosophically with Mr. Adams but has not endorsed his timetable.

"It will be done responsibly, over time. It has to be part of a larger, comprehensive plan to reform state government, and reduce onerous regulations. It's one arm of a much broader plan to bring prosperity back to Ohio," Mr. Nichols said.

He said one reason Mr. Kasich has held back from detailing his plan is the potential of a $9 billion deficit over the next 18 months, which Mr. Kasich blamed on the incumbent.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz also disputed the notion that tax cuts would prompt a flow of new employers into the state. He said the 21-percent across-the-board cut in income tax rates approved in 2005 under Republican Gov. Bob Taft did not result in an increase in business in the state.

A political opinion poll commissioned by the Ohio Newspaper Organization, which includes The Blade, showed Mr. Kasich leading Mr. Strickland by 51 percent to 45 percent.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.

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