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Kasich blasts Ohio chamber for tax-plan opposition

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Gov. John Kasich had some critical words for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, blasting the group for criticizing his failed plan to lower income and business taxes by expanding the state’s sales tax to include most services.

The Republican governor had proposed to lower income taxes for all Ohioans by 20 percent and institute a 50 percent tax cut for businesses on their first $750,000 of net income. To pay for that, Kasich wanted to expand the sale-tax base, a move that the chambers of commerce strenuously opposed.

During his keynote speech at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce’s Government Day Luncheon on Friday, Kasich criticized the Ohio Chamber for focusing on expanding the sales tax.

“If you’re a small business ... and you make $40,000 in net income, you only pay taxes on $20,000,” Kasich said, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

“Did you know that? Did you know that before the Ohio Chamber of Commerce came out and blasted this thing?” Kasich said. “I don’t know that they ever told any of their members about it.”

The Columbus Chamber surveyed its members on Kasich’s plans, and 58 percent opposed them as presented.

“When you get a survey, and somebody asks you what you think, you make sure you know what you’re talking about before you respond,” Kasich said.

Chamber spokeswoman Julie Wagner Feasel declined to comment.

The Ohio House stripped Kasich’s tax plans out of the budget last month and replaced them with a 7 percent income-tax cut. The Senate has indicated it would prefer to focus the cuts more toward businesses, and the Kasich administration holds out hope for some level of broader tax changes.

A coalition of metro chambers of commerce, including Ohio’s, this week presented a plan to the Senate to cut about $716 million in spending to pay for tax cuts.

Those proposals include partially privatizing the Department of Taxation and reducing property-tax relief provided by the state. The group also would close a state prison and ask public workers to pay more toward their pensions and health insurance.

The governor’s office has no official stance on the idea, but as Kasich tried to make the point that businesses don’t want to be taxed more in some areas to pay for tax cuts in others, he said: “Hire every lobbyist you can and make sure you preserve what it is that you get, demanding ‘Don’t tax me, tax the guy behind the tree,’ and who really cares about the long-term macro-economic effect?

“You know why I care about this?” he said. “Because I want people working.”

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