Governor Kasich’s Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald spoke at the Ahiska Turk Community Center in Dayton on Wednesday, harshly criticizing the Republican governor’s economic policies.
The party line at FitzGerald’s Dayton event: Kasich takes from poor, and gives to the rich.
“His budgets have undeniably been a tax shift away from the poor and middle class,” said newly-minted city commissioner Jeffrey Mims, “and moving towards doing everything they can to help his buddies and his friends who are at the top of the financial food chain.
Democrats criticize Kasich for cutting income taxes while raising sales taxes, a strategy that results in disproportionate savings for the rich. Because the tax cut is across the board, wealthier Ohioans may see up to $6,000 per year in cuts, while low-income wage earners could see as little as $10.
FitzGerald said Kasich’s JobsOhio, a semi-privatized economic development agency, suffers from conflicts of interest and lacks transparency, but added he wouldn’t eliminate incentives for businesses as governor.
“We believe in making it a requirement that if you help a company that first of all it creates jobs, and second of all that those jobs actually pay a living wage,” he said.
He accused Kasich of not making the most of relationships with Dayton-area leaders and industry, although he did not offer specific ideas for economic development in Montgomery County that would differ significantly from Kasich’s.
FitzGerald has been Cuyahoga County Executive since 2010, before which he served as Mayor of Lakewood, Ohio and as a special agent targeting organized crime for the FBI. His campaign has already run up against some problems: his first choice for a running mate turned out to be carrying a load of unpaid taxes, and now a fellow Democrat is considering an upstart primary run against FitzGerald.
Governor Kasich’s office declined to respond, but the Ohio Republican Party sent a statement saying the governor’s policies support job creation and a stronger workforce.
“The Governor has reduced taxes for all Ohioans, reformed education so all schools can be high-performing, regardless of zip code, and revamped workforce training so that middle class workers can get the training they need,” wrote GOP spokesman Chris Schrimpf. “On the other hand, FitzGerald’s first major decision as a statewide candidate involved picking a running mate who failed to pay his employee’s [sic] social security and Medicare taxes.”
FitzGerald ridiculed Kasich’s claims of economic progress in the state.
“In all 88 counties I’ve been to, I’ve asked people to raise their hand if they feel the economy in Ohio is a miracle,” he said. “So I ask you, just raise your hand if you feel Ohio’s economy is a miracle.”
One audience member raised a hand, and everybody laughed.