COLUMBUS: Ohio Gov. John Kasich is not eager to end the death penalty, not afraid to veto a drilling tax and not looking to push a right-to-work proposal to limit labor unions.
The first-term Republican made those stances clear in answering questions Thursday during a legislative preview session for journalists, organized by the Associated Press.
Still unknown is what he’ll say in his State of the State address on Feb. 24 in Medina.
“I don’t know yet,” he told reporters. “But hopefully it will not be a real long talk.”
State leaders, including Kasich, were asked about an array of policy issues facing them in the election year.
Online voter registration was among the top priorities for Secretary of State Jon Husted, also a Republican. But support for it among his fellow GOP lawmakers who dominate the legislature remains unclear.
Leading Republicans told reporters at the forum that their caucuses have not taken positions on whether to let Ohioans sign up online to vote.
Senate President Keith Faber of Celina said his GOP members have mixed feelings about it.
Outside of election law changes, the leaders said they’re working on adjustments to the state’s renewable energy and efficiency mandates, along with tax changes that include a rate hike on horizontally drilled shale wells.
A proposal pending in the legislature calls for severance-tax increases on the wells, with proceeds funding a statewide income-tax cut. The measure replaces a scuttled tax plan that Kasich sought. The new plan would generate an estimated $2 billion over 10 years.
Kasich said he’s still working with the General Assembly on the idea.
“If I don’t have a severance tax that passes the smell test in terms of what I think is fair, I told the leaders I’d veto it,” he said.
Kasich was asked about his position on the death penalty, following the prolonged execution of a condemned killer this month that led to calls for a state moratorium on capital punishment.
Kasich said he awaits the review of the execution by Ohio’s corrections department. “But at the end of the day,” he said, “I believe that the death penalty, when applied in a strict way with a thoroughness, is an appropriate amount of justice that should be delivered.”