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Published: Friday, 3/1/2013

Nearly half of Ohio voters don't like Kasich's sales tax proposal, poll finds

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich’s popularity may be rising, but his proposal to swap greater sales tax collections for an income tax cut isn’t catching on with voters, the latest Quinnipiac Poll said today.

But Ohio’s registered voters are with him on his decision to take on some in his own party by partnering with the federal government to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of currently uninsured Ohioans under President Obama’s healthcare reform law.

“Gov. John Kasich is popular, but voters don’t like his view that the income tax should be cut and the sales tax broadened as a preferable way to raise state revenue,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Forty-eight percent of registered voters polled dislike the tax plan, the cornerstone of the Republican governor’s $63.3 billion, two-year budget proposal. It’s met a similar reaction with some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Forty-two percent of voters approve of the idea

Support drops further when voters are told that the base on which the sales tax would be broadened at the same time the sales tax rate drops half a penny to 5 cents on the dollar. The polling question spelled out some of the services that would be newly taxed, prompting voter disapproval to climb to 50 percent and voter approval to drop to 40 percent.

.In addition to expanding the sales tax base to more services like haircuts, legal services, accounting, debt and investment counseling, advertising, and many hours, Mr. Kasich’s tax plan calls for greater taxes on shale natural gas and oil drilling. That would help to underwrite a net $1.4 billion income tax cut over three years — a 20 percent cut for individuals and 50 percent cut for small businesses.

The governor’s decision to take advantage of greater federal reimbursements, including 100 percent reimbursement for the first three years, to expand Medicaid eligibility has frustrated some of Mr. Kasich’s conservative Republican base even as Democrats have applauded.

The poll showed Ohioans, by a margin of 48 percent to 42 percent, siding with Mr. Kasich on this one even as they continue to disapprove of President Obama’s health care law by a margin of 48 percent to 39 percent.

“Although voters overall like expanding Medicaid, Republicans oppose it 65 to 24 percent, a significant number given the GOP House could block the plan,” Mr. Brown said.

The poll also showed that 90 percent of Ohio voters favor background checks on all gun purchases. Support drops to 53 percent when asked about a nationwide ban on assault weapons.

Eight-six percent of gun owners favor the background checks, but 60 percent oppose an assault weapons ban.

The gun issue is largely on the federal front with no indication at the state level that lawmakers are willing to pass laws curbing accessibility to guns.

Mr. Obama’s favorability among Ohioans remains in positive territory with 49 percent approving of his performance and 46 percent disapproving. But his favorability rating has dropped from the 56 percent seen in the last Quinnipiac Poll in December.

The poll questioned 1,011 registered voters between Feb. 21 and 26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.



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