WARREN - Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday was remaining coy on his feelings about video lottery terminals at Ohio's race tracks, but he wasn't reluctant to admit that a major overhaul is necessary to pull Ohio through an expected $8 billion budget hole and flourish in the future.
The Republican also said his is the "open-for-business administration" and now the concentration is on business retention "so you don't have any more holes blown in our economy," before shifting focus toward expansion.
Kasich, who made a stop at the Tribune Chronicle Tuesday after visiting the General Motors-Lordstown complex, touched on a wide range of issues, from what he called a major restructuring in areas like Ohios prison system, collective bargaining and education to taxes to the Utica Shale, a massive growth opportunity in Ohio.
Governor visits Tribune Chronicle editorial board
What hes not saying, at least for now, is whether video lottery terminals (VLTs), otherwise known as video slots might soon appear at Ohio horse race tracks. Its a matter of how all gambling fits together, Kasich said, adding the matter needs more thought before he makes a stand.
The matter has taken on more relevance locally since the Mahoning Valley has been mentioned as the site to develop a race track and resort. Developers had said they plan on moving forward with the project without a casino now, believing Ohio will eventually allows video slots gaming.
Kasich said work is progressing on Ohios next two-year budget, which will include keeping the income tax rate at less than 6 percent. You cant tax your way to prosperity ... I also dont believe you can cut yourself to prosperity.
But he hasnt ruled out increasing fees for some services. Legitimate users fees, I want to look at of course, but the hole is about $8 billion. You cant fee your way out of this, Kasich said.
In addition, Kasich said examinations of Ohios income tax, that is the thing that drives Ohioans out, lack of a capital gains differential and death tax are needed. I dont think anybody goes to Florida because they think they are going to die. They usually are going to Florida because they think they are going to live, and theyd like to spend more money.
The governor called the Utica Shale, a field of natural gas far underground, a life-changing opportunity for the state and said he believes people cannot let their fear of drilling outweigh the opportunity the shale could provide Ohio.
Hes asked the directors of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Department of Natural Resources to begin developing a plan to to address such concerns as ground water contamination. You have to have good, solid game plan to answer any concerns anyone may have, Kasich said.