Economy, Jobs – and Municipal Tax Reform – Focus of 2017 State of the State

On March 4, Gov. John Kasich delivered his seventh State of the State address. As he has in the previous six, Gov. Kasich focused on the goal of growing Ohio’s economy. He declared that, “our greatest moral purpose as governmental leaders is to create an environment of job creation.” In his six-plus years in office, Gov. Kasich has helped to once again make Ohio a good place to locate a new business or expand an existing one.

To illustrate this, he shared some success stories that have occurred during his time in office, stories about how Ohio “is attracting businesses of the 21st century.” The governor attributed much of this success to policy changes that the Ohio Chamber has supported fully: reducing income taxes for small businesses, streamlining regulations, improving job training, and providing billions of dollars of workers’ compensation premium rebates.

Much of the speech however, was forward-looking. He expressed optimism about the future and how his administration is committed to further diversifying Ohio’s economy. And in true Gov. Kasich fashion, he made it clear it’s not yet time – nor will it ever be time – to slow down. “We’ve got to put our foot on the gas,” he said.

When he turned to the current deliberations over the development of Ohio’s next biennial budget, he reiterated his commitment to reforming the tax code. The aspect of his budget proposal the Ohio Chamber is most excited about – improving our convoluted municipal income tax system – got special attention from the governor, as he pointed out how embracing these common sense reforms could save job creators $800 million in compliance costs alone. The Ohio Chamber echoes the appeal Gov. Kasich made last night to pass municipal tax reform “so we can, in fact, help these businesses.”

As to be expected in a State of the State, the economy and jobs weren’t the only things the governor discussed. He talked about colleges and universities, about workforce development, Medicaid, and, of course, the horrible scourge of drug addiction. He also made a plea for less division and political polarization and a call for commonality – themes that are reminiscent of the governor’s presidential campaign.

Ohio’s been on quite a ride with Gov. Kasich. The State of the State shows that we should expect nothing less in his final two years. As the governor himself said in concluding his speech, in reference to nearby Ohio Chamber member Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world, “Let’s keep going just like those rollercoasters, higher, faster, together.”