Let me first acknowledge that both candidates were highly professional and friendly with each other - one apologizing for the same stump speech he'd just given and the other complimenting the approach that they've taken in the campaign. This was their second joint appearance in the campaign. Both recognized the other politely in their openings. Lee Fisher (D) said about Tom Raga (R), "Campaigns are not about people, but ideas. I'm glad we're focusing on the issues."
Because he arrived first, Rep. Tom Raga was the first to speak, so his comments start us off. Comments are given in bullet points and are not verbatim.
Brief background: State Representative in his third term from the 67th District. Previously a township trustee in Deerfield Township. Vice Chair of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, Chair of Majority Policy Committee.
- good government is about partnerships between state, county, townships and cities
- we need to forge a new understanding of how to deliver services in better partnerships - better managing the property tax system
- This ticket's agenda: fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and limited government to get the state moving again.
- Americans cut their taxes and protect their earnings by moving. Ohio is 3rd in total tax burden and 50th in new business start-ups.
- We need tangible, real results - starts with fiscal restraint. The TEL (tax expenditure limit) is off and the "statutory TEL" (SEL - recently passed and signed into law) applies only to state functions. The state needs to go first to prove that it can work.
- Tax Reform - need to accelerate the phase out of the corporate tax - the tangible personal property tax.
- Regulatory Certainty - need to mandate that state regulations can go no further than their federal counterparts. Regulations slow us down. There are 350 permitting and taxing authorities in the Cleveland area alone. Louisville and Indianapolis - with unigov - are examples of how we have to champion regionalism to be successful.
- Plan to boost the economy by leasing the turnpike - other states have done it - use the proceeds to fund investment in economic development..."jobs fund."
- Education - pre-k education and early care are priorities. Starting early and providing assistance to parents means more parents working, decreasing money spent in the criminal justice system and less state spending on health care costs. (I missed part of this topic because of a person who took a cell phone call during the presentation...his point was that by starting with earlier education, the state would see long-term results.)
- ODJFS (Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Service) - he acknowledged that it is always a challenging relationship with every attempt by the state to control costs giving the impression that more restrictions will be placed on counties. Plan to help the department get their act straight and get the proper information to counties - counties can't be negatively impacted because of state problems. (This has to do with state interpretations and instructions to counties about federal law which the feds later say are incorrect.)
- CSEA (Child Support Enforcement Agency) - the ticket recognizes that a loss of funding for these operations means less collected which means more reliance on public welfare - it's a double hit.
CONCLUSION: there are a long list of issues. The next governor will have to partner and the strongest partner will be the county. This ticket realizes that the actions of the state dramatically impact local governments. From state perspective, must treat all citizens equally, but provide flexibility for unique areas. Best chance for the state is this ticket's agenda: fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and limited government to get the state moving again.
***NOTE: Raga stayed within the requested time limit CCAO had given.
Next column will be Lee Fisher's speech...