Thursday, February 25, 2010

John Kasich: After...and before

THERE'S AN unwritten rule in politics that the public tends to remember what the pol says first - no matter what he or she says later. It's a noose that has been slipped around John Kasich's neck, no matter how he tends to soften his original statement as the Republican gubernatorial candidate. I refer to his bombastic promise that he would eliminate the state income tax - even now that he and his allies are hurriedly saying that he didn't mean to do it by the next day's sunrise. Indeed, I'm not sure when he intends to eliminate the tax if he wins. Campaign promises often arrive in a haze.

The Columbus Dispatch reported today that opposition to Kasich's idea is quickly rising among school officials who fear that the absence of an income tax would further cripple their efforts to make ends meet. They have reason to worry. According to the Legislative Service Commission, seized as a convenient authoritative source by Democrats, the schools would lose $200 million in 2011 alone and God-knows how much over a 10-year period.

Not that Kasich doesn't have his supporters. For example, there is freshman Rep. Seth Morgan, the young (31) GOP candidate for state auditor, who accused the D's of turning the tax proposal into a heartstring issue and "using children as political pawns."

Something about Morgan, now that he has chosen to enter the fray from the political far right with Tea Party blessings. He represents the Dayton suburb of Huber Heights, and has posted his qualifications on his campaign home page: He says he would use his "passion for public policy, philosophy for a responsible government and love for Ohio" to make a difference. Here we go again: He has earned his spurs by once managing a Christian bookstore and attended Liberty Academy Satellite Schools. He got an online undergraduate degree but did manage to get an MBA summa cum laude from Dayton University. Forgive me: I recite all of this now because his name will be popping up regularly during the campaign season.

As for the income tax, the Dispatch reported today: "Ohio's income tax brings in a little more than $7 billion to Ohio's general revenue fund, about 44 pct. of all tax revenue. Kasich has said he favors its elimination but he has not set a timetable."

The election is many months away, but don't bet that the fuss over the state income tax - Kasich's original version - will go away. With political rhetoric, it is usually first things first.

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