Gov. Kasich speaks at UD, commends business program

By: Mike Brill – Staff Writer

Ohio Governor John Kasich and Ohio Tax Commissioner Joseph Testa spoke to a group of entrepreneurship students Tuesday about the Kasich administration’s proposed tax plan.

University President Dan Curran, Interim Provost Paul Benson and School of Business Administration Dean Paul Bobrowski welcomed Gov. Kasich to Miriam Hall. Kasich greeted the entrepreneurship students as he entered, asking Blend Express employees and audience members about their career aspirations and hometowns.

Kasich began by speaking to the entrepreneurship students about his time attending the Ohio State University. Access to top OSU administrators was difficult when he was a student, as Kasich found when he was repeatedly ignored by the OSU president’s secretary in his request to schedule a private meeting with the president. Kasich was persistent, however, and the secretary relented and granted him a short meeting with the president.

Kasich spoke to the president about his difficulty deciding his major his first year. The president described his position to the 18-year-old Kasich, and mentioned that he was flying to Washington, D.C., the following week to visit then President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office.

Kasich asked to join him on this trip, a request that was denied. Kasich, however, convinced the university president to deliver a letter to Nixon on his behalf. Kasich received a letter two weeks later, inviting him to the Oval Office to meet with Nixon“I was in Congress 18 years, and those five minutes in the Oval Office have been the peak of the time I have spent there,” Kasich said. The governor attributes his inspiration to beginning a career in government to this moment in the Oval Office.

Kasich switched topics to his plan to create tax breaks for some small business owners. The tax changes are a part of Kasich’s 2016-2017 fiscal year budget, which the administration has titled “Blueprint for a New Ohio.”

The plan would exempt owners of businesses with less than $2 million in annual gross receipts from the state’s personal income taxes. It would also decrease every Ohioan’s income tax by 23 percent.

This tax cut would be paid for by an across-the-board sales tax increase from 5.7 percent to 6.25 percent, a $1 increase in the sales tax on packs of cigarettes, a tax increase on oil and gas drillers and new sales taxes on currently untaxed industries. The proposal would create a net $500 million tax cut.

The goal of Kasich’s tax plan is to incentivize Ohioans to open small businesses.

“Small business is the glue that ties our communities together,” Kasich said. He emphasized the tax plan would help small businesses create jobs, saying Ohio has gained over 600,000 jobs under his tax policies.

“The income tax is the biggest job killer,” Testa said. He noted the individual income tax makes up 35 percent of the state’s annual revenue, which he believes is a sign state government has become too reliant on income taxes, the proceeds of which may vary year-to-year as Ohioans’ earnings change. The Kasich administration’s proposal would help shift the state from an income tax system to a consumption-based system.

Kasich and Testa hope these small business tax cuts encourage students to stay in Ohio after graduation. They emphasized the importance of having Ohio students use their skills as businesspeople or workers to help benefit the state.

“What would it take for you to stay?” Kasich asked students. Many students responded by saying they wanted to return home to be near their families, while others said they would be looking for a business-friendly environment after graduation. The governor said he is working to create such an environment.

The event also highlighted the School of Business Administration’s Entrepreneurship program, ranked 13th nationally by The Princeton Review, and two of its students, Annie Kyne and Jessica Kerr.

Kyne and Kerr are both involved with the Flyer Angels program, which allows students to make private equity investments in Ohio-based technology ventures. They are also business plan competition elevator pitch winners.

“We are both really excited about Gov. Kasich’s entrepreneurship initiatives,” Kerr said.

Kasich had one final compliment for the school’s entrepreneurship program before he left.

“You’ve got to be nuts not to participate in this program,”  Kasich said.