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Published: Saturday, 2/23/2013

Lopez, Kapszukiewicz slam Kasich's State of the State, budget plan

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two prominent Lucas County elected officials — both Democrats — denounced Republican Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State address and recently unveiled budget as a handout for the wealthy and a hardship for everyone else.

Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez and Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, speaking at a news conference Friday at Lucas County Democratic Party headquarters, said the governor’s proposed $63.3 billion, two-year budget would represent a tax increase for middle-class and working-class Ohioans when the expanded sales tax is taken into account, and leaves less money for local schools and local government services.

The governor has proposed a broad expansion of the sales tax base to include many untaxed services, such as movie tickets, bowling alleys, and funeral services, Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. That would help underwrite a 20 percent income tax cut for individuals over three years and a 50 percent cut for small businesses. The budget also would lower the state share of the sales-tax half a penny to 5 cents on the dollar.

Mr. Kasich has portrayed the services that will be newly taxed as typically affecting more affluent Ohioans, such as architecture and legal services.

The governor “does not understand the struggles of everyday Ohioans,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

The State of the State address Tuesday “glossed over significant damage” to local education, Ms. Lopez added. Preliminary breakdowns of the effect Mr. Kasich’s proposed K-12 school funding formula on school districts show growing, relatively wealthier suburban districts in metro Toledo will receive significant increases in funds next year, while state funding for struggling Toledo Public Schools stays flat.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz did say he was pleased, however, with the governor’s support to expand Medicaid by extending health-care coverage to about 400,000 uninsured Ohioans.

“That is a good thing,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said of Mr. Kasich’s embrace of the federal program many Republicans oppose expanding.

Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Mr. Kasich, said the governor’s budget provides an overall tax cut of about $1.4 billion and is targeted to create jobs and help small businesses.

Both Lucas County Democratic Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler and Ms. Lopez declined to answer questions from the media about her possible ambitions to run for Toledo’s mayoral seat in November, saying that was not the purpose of Friday’s announcement.

Ms. Lopez has said in the past that she has considered entering the race, but has been elusive about it recently.

Confirmed candidates for mayor include incumbent Mayor Mike Bell; Toledo City Councilman Joe McNamara; Alan Cox, a city neighborhood development specialist and president of one of the city unions; and Opal Covey, a church minister.

Contact Kate Giammarise at: kgiammarise@theblade.com or 419-724-6091, or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.



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