Ohio gov decries partisanship, lashes out at Dems
JULIE CARR SMYTH
AP Statehouse Correspondent
COLUMBUS — With his budget now passed, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich blasted Democrats and their allies on Friday for pursuing a partisan agenda while fighting his efforts to fix the state’s economy.
Kasich is scheduled to appear Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” then head on a multistate tour to promote tax breaks, investment incentives and a bill opening Ohio’s public lands — including state parks — to oil and gas drilling, which he believes can help get the state back on its feet.
“This isn’t about an assault on anybody,” Kasich said during an event at his official residence in Bexley to tout passage of the state’s nearly $56 billion, two-year budget. “This is about making things work in Ohio and not being a god-darned 1920s state that is falling behind and getting crushed economically.”
Kasich lamented what he sees as increasing partisanship in the country, even as he singled out the party that opposes his efforts. He also said he still has hope he can convince Democrats of the value of his ideas. “I’ll charm them,” he said after his rant against their failure to support the Republicans’ budget.
Lagging in popularity polls, Kasich has presided over the passage of significant privatization efforts, cuts to schools and local governments, and an overhaul of the state’s collective bargaining overhaul that have prompted a labor-backed backlash against him.
Kasich had particularly harsh words for ProgressOhio, a liberal policy group that has filed suits against his administration alleging violations of the state constitution with one of his Cabinet appointments and his effort to privatize the state’s economic development office. The group also filed suit after a lockdown of the Statehouse during collective bargaining rallies.
“Driving Mark Kvamme out of the Department of Development was one of the most irresponsible things I’ve ever seen in my political career,” he said. “Why’d they do that? Constitutional issues? I know the press can tend to be a little cynical. Maybe you ought to think about that, why they did it. It’s disrupting, and we’re not going to let them disrupt the agenda of helping Ohio recover.”
The group’s challenge to Kvamme’s appointment noted opinions by the state attorney general and an opinion of the bipartisan Legislative Service Commission that Cabinet appointees need to be residents and registered voters of the state. Kvamme was a resident of California when he was appointed.
“What’s happening in Ohio now is if you lose you sue or you make a public records request, slow down the process,” Kasich said. “It’s all in the pursuit of selfish power.”
ProgressOhio executive director Brian Rothenberg said Kasich needs to be reminded how democracy works.
“I guess we’re all getting used to these political tantrums,” Rothenberg said. “The fact of the matter is he swore to uphold the whole constitution, not just the parts he likes.”
After the group’s lawsuit, Kasich appointed Kvamme to a non-Cabinet advisory position within his administration and named a new development director.