Sunday, June 18, 2006

Lt. Governor Candidates Part I

At the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio summer conference last week, both lieutenant governor candidates came in to speak. This is a three-part posting where I will highlight the specific points made by each candidate (parts 1 and 2) and then share my impressions of the presentations (part 3). Please remember that the comments are directed to County Commissioners and that, as a creature of state statute, we are technically an arm of state government implementing state services on a local level.

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.

POINTS:
  • 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...

5 comments:

Joab said...

Thanks so much for posting this. This is good stuff voters need to know.

Kate said...

This all sounds fantastic, but isn't some of it out of the scope of control of a Lt. Governor? Lowering fiscal responsibility, taxes, educational issues?

Certainly these are issues that need attention and I applaud his recognition of this, however Ohio's history has long been to leave educational matters to the Ohio Bd. of Ed and the Lt. Governor does not, to my knowledge, sign budgets or legislation, as would affect taxes and state budgeting constraints.

Not challenging his intent - just his ability to address these issues from the seat he is campaigning for.

Maggie Thurber said...

Kate - the lg candidates were really just promoting the Governor candidate positions - they don't run on their own, but as part of the ticket...so, as the governor does prepare the budget, submit and support various pieces of legislation in the house and senate and has significant impact on taxes, it makes sense in Ohio for them to carry and promote those positions for "the ticket."

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

This point:
”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.’”

Unless this is a very carefully crafted lease, the state could be left, at the end of the lease, with a run-down infrastructure that we (the taxpayers) would be on the hook for rebuilding.

And, there should be some language included to protect the turnpike users from excessive rates and rate hikes…

Hopefully, much study will be made and the best from other turnpike lease agreements would be incorporated in any lease that Ohio would enter into.

The nagging question I have about leased turnpikes is, have there been any leases out there with enough history behind them to research before attempting to craft a fair and equitable lease for Ohio and Ohioans. My Spidey sense tells me that there must be lots of profit potential (for the lesee) in these deals, otherwise they wouldn’t be so eagerly sought after…

Maggie Thurber said...

Hooda - you're not alone in your concerns about this idea...people on both sides of the political aisle have many questions.

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