MARION – Investment in schools and job creation top the list of priorities for one of the four Democrats who have entered the race to become Ohio’s next governor in 2018.
State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, spoke to the Marion County Democratic Club on Wednesday at the local party headquarters. He addressed topics ranging from education and jobs to Medicaid expansion and the state budget.
“For me, schools is a huge issue; job creation is a huge issue,” said Schiavoni, who was appointed to a vacant senate seat in 2008 and has since won reelection in 2010 and 2014. “So, I’m constantly pushing bills that would invest in job creation, invest in your technical schools, invest in your two-year colleges, invest in your four-year colleges, and link them to the business community so we have job-ready people.”
Schiavoni said he has introduced legislation in the senate calling for investment in education, job creation, infrastructure initiatives, addressing the opioid epidemic, community redevelopment and other issues, but has received push back from his Republican counterparts regarding the cost of the proposals.
“All of these bills cost money,” he said. “Republicans ask me, ‘How’re you going to pay for it, Joe?’ I tell them by not giving $5.1 million in income tax cuts to mostly to the wealthy. That’s what we’ve given back in the last five years. If you don’t have the tax cuts, then you have the ability to invest. That’s the philosophical difference that you’ll see in the statehouse. The Republican majority lives and dies by tax cuts, income tax cuts.”
Schiavoni said the income tax reductions have been offset by increases in state and local sales taxes.
“Some of you may have realized that when you paid your state taxes over the past five, six, seven years, you paid a little bit less,” he said. “But you’ve probably also realized that they increased the sales tax at the state level and probably at your local levels, too. You’ll also see that your levies for schools, roads and bridges, safety, seniors, people with handicaps, all of those levies are on the ballot every year because the Ohio legislature has been starving local governments and starving school districts so they could give the tax breaks.”
Ohio gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Joe Schiavoni,Buy Photo
Ohio gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, introduced himself to Marion County Democrats on Wednesday. He has served in the state senate since 2008. (Photo: Andrew Carter/The Marion Star)
Schiavoni told the local Democrats that he agrees with Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to expand Medicaid to cover the working poor in Ohio, but was critical of the governor for not “following through with it to where it’s meaningful Medicaid expansion.”
“What I mean by that is you have to invest in it in order for it to work,” he said. “You can’t just give someone a piece of paper that says they have Medicaid now, because if the providers aren’t accepting it, then it’s worthless. It’s going to cost a lot of money to fully fund Medicaid expansion. … My concern is that it’s not going to be properly funded through this budget, and we’re going to be taking a step backward.”
Originally published on The Marion Star.