Republican Governor John Kasich released his Mid-Biennium Review this week, a policy document that updates his previous budget and lays the framework for his administration's agenda for the upcoming year. The proposal includes plans for workforce development, education and veterans' issues. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler tells Emily McCord that Kasich's tax cuts are generating the most scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats alike as the governor faces re-election in the fall.
Key highlights of Kasich's tax proposal in the MBR:
-Income tax cut of 8.5 percent that would bring the top rate down to 4.66 percent by 2016.
-Increase the cigarette tax from $1.25 to $1.85 a pack.
-Raise the severance tax on oil and gas drillers of gross receipts from well operations of 2.75 percent, but leaves exemptions for smaller drillers.
-Raise personal deduction of $1,700 to $2,200 for families with incomes of less than $80,000, and to $2,700 for incomes under $40,000.
Kasler reports that this will have political implications as Kasich's re-election nears, as some advocates for the poor support the tax breaks for lower-income Ohioans, while others see this is a blatant attempt at vote-getting during a campaign. "That way, the Governor and Republican lawmakers can say 'we've cut taxes for you'. If this one goes through, the Governor's tax cuts have amounted to almost 18 percent since he took office."
There are concerns, also, within Kasich's own party. Many Republicans oppose Kasich's plan to raise the severance tax and say it could hamper the budding industry in Ohio.