Ed FitzGerald blasts the repeal of homestead exemption

Democratic candidate for Ohio governor was in Toledo today


Ed FitzGerald, the newly endorsed Democratic candidate for governor, in Toledo today blasted the repeal of the homestead exemption for seniors earning more than $30,000 as a mistake that he, if elected, would reverse.

Mr. FitzGerald, the executive of Cuyahoga County, stood with some local supporters and senior citizens in front of the Chester Zablocki Senior Center on Lagrange Street to criticize Republican Gov. John Kasich's tax policies. He received the Ohio Democratic Party executive committee's endorsement in Columbus on Wednesday night, though he still has to win the party's nomination in the 2014 primary election. He is the only Democrat so far in the gubernatorial race.

The governor and the GOP-controlled legislature this year rolled back eligibility for the homestead exemption - zero property taxes on the first $25,000 of property valuation - to apply only to those earning less than $30,000 a year, as well as everyone who's already getting it, as part of the two-year $62 billion budget. Mr. FitzGerald said seniors were planning on the discount, which he estimated at an average of $441 per homeowner, in their retirement.

"That's a lot of money especially for someone who's on a fixed income. This is not a huge expense for the state, but it's a big deal for those original homeowners," Mr. FitzGerald said.

Also, Mr. FitzGerald called on Governor Kasich to return approximately $22,000 in contributions his campaign has received from Benjamin Suarez, a Canton businessman who was indicted Wednesday in federal court in Cleveland on charges of scheming to funnel $190,000 in illegal contributions to two 2012 Republican candidates - state Treasurer Josh Mandel who was running for the U.S. Senate and Jim Renacci of Wadsworth who ran successfully for Congress.

Early today, the Kasich campaign announced that it was sending a check for the entire amount, $22,395.56 to a charity, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058. Follow on Twitter @TomFTroy.