COLUMBUS — Shortly before Gov. John Kasich took to the stage in Lima with his transplanted State of the State address, the closest thing he has to a 2014 Democratic opponent delivered a speech of his own in Cleveland.
Comparing Ed FitzGerald’s State of the County speech and the Republican governor’s speech is like comparing apples and oranges, but Cuyahoga County’s first chief executive said the underlying philosophies stood in sharp contrast.
“Part of our philosophy was to balance our budget using our own resources, not take from local communities,” he said Wednesday. “He talks about balancing the budget and building surpluses. We’ve done that too, and to a greater degree, but never by cutting services of local communities or transferring their money or surpluses into our own and then forcing them to raise their own taxes.”
Mr. FitzGerald has continued to travel the state to gauge support. He hasn’t announced his candidacy but plans to do so before the end of March.
Another potential contender is former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, but that may depend on whether the Senate confirms him to stay on as President Obama’s director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republicans have threatened to block a confirmation until they win concessions to weaken a post they argue holds too much power.
Also mentioned have been Youngstown Congressman Tim Ryan and former Akron area congressman Betty Sutton.
“Our balanced budget effort was not funded by tax shifts or tax increases on anybody,” Mr. FitzGerald said. “The governor’s proposals are at least raising taxes on some people. My concern is that it’s disproportionately on ordinary Ohioans, working people.”
Mr. Kasich’s speech a year ago in Steubenville, the first not delivered in Columbus, was criticized for being long and meandering and largely ignoring the Senate Bill 5 collective bargaining fight that consumed much of his first year. The law was ultimately rejected by voters in November, 2011.
This year Mr. Kasich’s speech was more concise and focused on trying to win over lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for his controversial budget proposals to overhaul the state’s tax system, expand Medicaid under the federal health-care law, borrow against Ohio Turnpike tolls, and bank surpluses some argue should be spent on struggling schools and local governments.
And the governor was undoubtedly optimistic.
“Wow. Right? Wow,” he said.
“I mean, things are happening in Ohio. You may not like it all, but it’s pretty cool, and look at the total picture.”
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.