State of the State speech

Jobs, taxes and education funding are expected to be among the topics Ohio Gov. John Kasich will discuss during his annual State of the State speech Tuesday. And local residents hope the governor will present some positive comments on all of those issues.

Third Street resident Stan Keach, 75, would like to hear the governor talk about increasing employment opportunities.

“Creating more jobs is important, and I would like to see support for more growth in the shale oil and gas industry,” he said. “Anything to help get the economy growing.”

But part of the tax reform plan Kasich is expected to discuss Tuesday night includes a proposed severance tax increase on shale drilling within the state, a move drilling companies say will slow industry growth and job creation.

Keach said better support is also needed for education.

“I have two children who are teachers, so I’d be interested in the state providing more funding for schools,” he said.

The governor is likely to mention his effort aimed at equalizing the school funding formula across the state, but details released on that plan early this month indicated that most school districts won’t see any increase in state support over the next two years.

In Washington County, for example, only Marietta and Belpre school districts would receive an increase through 2015.

“Schools, jobs-the whole economy needs to be overhauled in this state,” said Joan Mayer, 58, who lives on Montgomery Street.

She did agree with Kasich’s plan to increase taxes on the shale industry in Ohio.

“Tax those people, they’re making extra money off of this state,” Mayer said. “But we also need to get our people back to work.”

Sacra Via resident Keith Ault, 53, hopes the governor will explain where he’ll get the money to help the state’s ailing school districts.

“I would like to understand how he plans to help schools without raising taxes,” he said. “How will he do that?”

Ault’s wife, Wendy, 51, noted the plan set forth earlier this month falls far short of what’s needed to fix the state school funding formula.

“If they’re going to increase funding for some schools, they should do it for all,” she said.

On tax relief, Kasich will probably tout his proposal for an overhaul he promises will yield a net income tax cut for Ohioans of $1.4 billion over three years.

The plan includes a broad expansion of the sales tax base, lowering the state sales tax rate a half-cent to 5 cents on the dollar, as well as raising taxes on the growing shale drilling industry, largely in eastern Ohio.

Kasich’s tax plan also calls for a 20 percent across-the-board income tax cut for individuals, and a 50 percent income tax cut on the first $750,000 in small business profits.

Catherine Bigley, 34, owner of the S.W.A.G.G. store on Front Street, said tax breaks are always welcome news for businesses and individuals.

“Everyone complains that they want lower taxes, but they also complain when reduced taxes result in a loss of police and fire services, or when their roads aren’t fixed,” she said.

As for plans to tax the shale industry, Bigley said that could be a mistake.

“Those people are investing a lot of money here,” she said. “Many people don’t realize just how much the oil and gas industry is pumping into our local economy.”