Karen Kasler (Ohio Public Radio)

Karen Kasler is a lifelong Ohioan with a passion for broadcast reporting. She left her hometown of Lancaster for Otterbein College. As News Director at WCBE in Columbus in the 90s, she covered a variety of events, including the local impact of the Gulf War, the financial problems of the Columbus Public Schools and the trouble-ridden Ameriflora exhibition in 1992.

Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Master's Program for Mid-Career Journalists at The Ohio State University in 1994. After a brief stint at WBNS-TV in Columbus, she moved to Cleveland and became the afternoon drive anchor and assignment editor for WTAM-AM. Karen followed the demolition and rebuilding of Cleveland Browns Stadium, produced award-winning series on identity theft and the Y2K panic, covered the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the blackout of 2003, and reported annually from the Cleveland National Air Show each year, often going upside down in an aerobatic plane to do it. In 1999, she was a media witness to the execution of Wilford Berry, at the time the first man put to death since Ohio re-instated capital punishment. Karen frequently reported for ABC Radio News, and also co-produced an award-winning nationally-distributed documentary on the one-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, which featured her interview with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the West Wing of the White House.

Since returning to Columbus, she's covered major elections and the controversies surrounding them, the "Coingate" scandal and the resignation of former Attorney General Marc Dann. She's also produced features on "green" business, STEM education, campaign ads, the elimination of the state's anti-smoking agency and a demolition derby involving farm equipment.

Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the governor's State of the State. She was a panelist for the gubernatorial and the US Senate debates in 2006 and the Attorney General's race in 2008, and has also been interviewed by NPR, by the BBC and by Brian Williams for NBC's "Nightly News".

Karen has been honored by the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists, the Ohio Educational Telecommunications Commission, and holds a National Headliner Award. She's won several awards from the Ohio AP, and is a four-time winner of the AP's Best Broadcast Writing award. She was nominated for an Emmy in 2006 for hosting "The State of Ohio". She's currently the president-elect of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters.

Karen joined the Bureau in March 2004. She’s reported for NPR, Marketplace and the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, and is a frequent guest on ONN’s “Capitol Square” , WVIZ’s “Ideas” and WOSU-TV’s “Columbus on the Record”.

Karen is also an adjunct professor at Capital University in Columbus. Karen, her husband and their son Jack live on Columbus' northeast side.

Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

The 162nd Ohio State Fair opens Wednesday in a ceremony presided over by Gov. John Kasich, back from his first tour as an official candidate for president. 

Midway rides have been under construction for a week, and last minute preps go on up until the fair opens. In other parts of the 360-acre fairgrounds, livestock shows are underway as more animals and their exhibitors are coming in. Food vendors are setting up – this year featuring something called deep fried cake balls.

piggy bank money pension cash
dfunk / Openclipart

A new study from an economically conservative think tank ranks Ohio 7th nationally in overall fiscal health – but it also put Ohio’s five pension systems second to last in the nation.

The study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University calculated the unfunded liabilities of the state’s pension systems as if they were bonds.

Lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich lauded the state budget for its tax cuts for small business owners. But it may actually include a tax increase.

The budget changes the current sliding tax rate scale for small businesses to a flat tax. And there’s a difference in the amount of income that can be deducted by small businesses between the two budget years. All that translates to a tax increase for the first budget year for business owners making up to $250,000.

Gov. John Kasich vetoed 44 items in the new state budget, and one of them related to the sometimes difficult online tests that taxpayers getting refunds had to fill out to prove their identities.

The tax department and legislators got thousands of complaints that the online identity tests were asking for old information that was hard to recall – such as past addresses and details about now-adult children. So lawmakers proposed the required information be no more than five years old.

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

The first piece of legislation related to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of same-sex couples to marry is making the rounds at the Ohio Statehouse.

It’s called the “Pastor Protection Act,” to ensure that clergy members aren’t forced to perform ceremonies that go against their religious beliefs. Sponsoring State Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) says it will help supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage get along.

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

The state budget is now on the governor’s desk, and he says he’ll sign it by the fiscal year’s end on June 30. 

Gov. John Kasich didn’t get a lot of what he wanted – for instance, increases in the sales, commercial activity or fracking taxes. But he says it’s the third budget in a row to cut income taxes.

“We push very, very big ideas here. And sometimes a victory is to push those ideas,” Kasich said. “You get as much of it done as you can.”

Office of Governor John Kasich

Gov. John Kasich is ready to run for president – he’s scheduled his campaign kick off for a few weeks from now at his alma mater. 

Kasich was back on Sunday morning TV – this week on CBS’ Face the Nation – and was once again asked about when he might officially join the crowded Republican presidential field. 

“We’re getting awfully close to making a decision,” Kasich said.

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

There will likely be a funding increase for K-12 public education in the next budget, since lawmakers scrapped Gov. John Kasich’s proposal that would have resulted in less money for half the state’s more than 600 school districts.

 

Both the House and Senate budgets ensure that no district will get less money in the next two years than they got this year. Republican Sen. Chris Widener says Senators put a lot more money into public schools.

 

A conservative group wants the Ohio Supreme Court to decide whether Gov. John Kasich and the legislature illegally expanded gambling in Ohio by allowing Ohio’s seven horseracing tracks to become “racinos” with the installation of electronic slot machines. 

But before a group of racino opponents can make the argument against the video slots, there’s the issue of whether the group has the authority to file the lawsuit in the first place. The group’s lawyer Tom Connors says it does.

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

The state’s election chief is warning Ohio voters there may be confusion ahead in November, though no issues have officially made the fall ballot yet.

 

The ResponsibleOhio marijuana legalization amendment could be on the ballot at the same time as a measure that would prohibit businesses from creating amendments that give them economic benefits - just like the amendment from ResponsibleOhio does. Secretary of State Jon Husted says if what’s being called “the anti-monopoly” amendment gets more votes, it will negate the marijuana initiative.

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