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Republican Governors’ Visit to Las Vegas

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To: Interested Parties
From: DGA Communications
Date: March 28, 2014
RE: Republican Governors’ Visit to Las Vegas
On Friday, a parade of Republican governors—including Governors Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and John Kasich—will travel to Las Vegas to prostrate themselves before right-wing, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. It’s no wonder why they’re making the trip: in 2012 alone, Adelson spent $93 million to help elect right-wing candidates, including Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Governor Jan Brewer, and even Congressman Allen West.  Even Adelson’s associates have said that the real purpose of the trip is to win the “Sheldon Primary” for 2016.
While this journey will take them far away from their states, catering to the very rich is nothing new for these governors—it’s what they’ve done their entire time in office. Governors Christie, Walker and Kasich have all embraced a failed trickle-down economic philosophy that demands massive tax breaks for the wealthiest and big corporations at the expense of middle-class families. They’ve paid for these giveaways and special deals with deep cuts to schools and higher education, and by forcing municipalities to raise property and sales taxes—tax hikes that disproportionately affect working and middle-class families.
These failed policies may put them in line with right-wing billionaires like Adelson, but they’ve hurt their states. Today, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Ohio all have unemployment rates higher than the national average.  Given the significant challenges they face at home, it’s well past time for these governors to spend more time listening to the people of their states and less time vying for the affection of a billionaire in Las Vegas.
Some key background information:
John Kasich
100 Ohio Jobs To Be Lost From STERIS Facility Closing In Mentor. “STERIS Corporation today announced a targeted restructuring plan, which includes the closure of STERIS’s Hopkins Production Facility in Mentor, Ohio, as well as other actions, according to a news release on its website. Approximately 150 positions will be eliminated as a result of the restructuring plan, about 100 of which are in Ohio… Business operations at the Hopkins Facility are expected to cease by Oct. 31, 2015. The company will relocate the production of these products to existing North American manufacturing operations, according to the news release.” [WKYC, 3/26/14]
Crain’s Cleveland Business: “Kasich Is A Tax Shifter, Not A Tax Cutter”. In a March 2014 editorial, Crain’s Cleveland Business wrote, “Gov. John Kasich likes to portray himself as a tax-cutting crusader. It is a misleading representation. He is more an illusionist, a master of taxation sleight of hand. The reality is, the governor is a tax shifter. He is adept at transferring the burden of taxation from one party to another while giving the appearance of reducing taxes. Shifting the load is how he can balance a state budget that grows year after year even as he beats the drum for lower individual income tax rates.” [Crain’s Cleveland Business Editorial, 3/27/14]
Crain’s: Kasich’s Focus On Tax Cuts Instead Of Restoring State Aid “Has Meant Fewer Police Officers And Teachers”. “Even though the economy had regained some of its footing by last year and the state was awash with cash as tax receipts rebounded, Kasich and the Republican-led Legislature didn’t restore the money the cities and schools had been denied two years earlier. Instead, they used the bonanza to offset revenue they would be losing by enacting the income tax cuts. And what of the local governments and schools that felt the budget pain that the state passed down to them? The loss of state support has meant fewer police officers and teachers, less general fund money to fix potholes, and cuts to academic programs and extracurricular activities.” [Crain’s Cleveland Business Editorial, 3/27/14]
Plain Dealer Headline: “Ohio’s Unemployment Rate Improved In December But State’s Recovery Still Lags The Nation.” “Ohio’s unemployment rate continues to drop but it remains higher than the national average and higher than it stood a year ago. In December, 7.2 percent of the workforce was unemployed, according to data released Friday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. That’s down from 7.4 percent in November but higher than the 6.7 percent reported for December 2012. Meanwhile, Ohio’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national rate, which dropped from 7 percent in November to 6.7 percent in December…. While Ohio gained jobs in manufacturing, construction, business services and in the leisure and hospitality industry, it lost jobs in education, insurance and health services and in government offices.”  [Plain Dealer, 1/24/14]
Kasich Cut School Funding By $700 Million. “If you pay local taxes, local officials could be asking you for an increase as they deal with significant state budget cuts that total about $640 million for local governments and $700 million for schools. Totals include cuts from accelerated phase-outs of payments that covered the loss of tangible personal property taxes and utility property taxes.” [Columbus Dispatch, 7/3/11]
College And University Funding Cut by $250 Million. “School districts will see $700 million cut from the funding of kindergarten-through-12th-grade education, and colleges and universities will receive $250 million less over two years.” [Columbus Dispatch, Editorial, 6/30/11]
Ohio: Kasich Signed Budget That Eliminated the Estate Tax While Cutting Funds to Local Townships and Governments. “Cities, townships and other local governments will receive $1 billion less in state aid over the next two years through a combination of cuts to state funding and changes to the tax money they get, but the budget also includes a $45 million grant program in the budget for local governments that share services. The budget deposits approximately $250 million in its rainy day fund… The budget eliminates the state estate tax starting in 2013, provides for the sale of six prisons expected to generate around $200 million, permits the governor to pursue a long-term lease of the Ohio Turnpike by a private operator as long as lawmakers approve the terms and raises the threshold at which government must pay union-scale wages on public projects from the current $78,000 to $125,000 in 2012, $200,000 in 2013, and $250,000 in 2014.” [Sunshine Review, Ohio FY2012-2013 Budget, accessed 6/28/13]
Kasich Signed Budget That Included Income Tax Cut While Increasing State Sales Tax. “Ohioans will receive a 10-percent income tax cut [Kasich wanted 20%] phased in over three years but will see the sales tax rate rise from 5.5 to 5.75 percent. The budget includes a 50-percent tax break for small-business owners with up to $250,000 of yearly net income claimed on personal tax filings…Political volatile parts of the budget, like starving Planned Parenthood of funding, barring abortion providers from entering into emergency transfer agreements with public hospitals and forcing women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound, were untouched by Kasich’s veto pen.” [Examiner, 7/1/13]
Scott Walker
PolitiFact Wisconsin, January 2014: Walker “Less Than Halfway” Toward Meeting His Promise To Create 250,000 Jobs. “But even with an estimated 43,900 jobs created — far more than in his first two years in office — the governor is less than halfway toward meeting his promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs in his four-year term… To meet Walker’s 250,000 pledge, the state would have to create in one year 34,853 more jobs than the previous three years combined. By another measure, it would have to add 11,869 jobs each month of 2014.” [PolitiFact Wisconsin, 1/30/14]
Journal Sentinel: Job Growth Under Walker “Anemic Compared With Other States”. In a January 2014 editorial, the Journal Sentinel wrote, “Walker is nowhere near meeting his pledge that businesses would create 250,000 jobs during his first term, and Wisconsin’s job growth is anemic compared with other states. The state is 37th in the nation in private-sector job growth under Walker.” [Journal Sentinel Editorial, 1/25/14]
June 2013: Walker’s Job-Growth Record Ranked 40th Out Of 45 Governors. In June 2013, Business Journals “ranked 45 of the nation’s 50 governors according to their records for private-sector employment growth,” not including the five governors who took office earlier that year. Walker ranked 40th. [Business Journals, 6/27/13]
2011 Associated Press Headline: “Wis. Gov. Signs Budget Cutting Education $1.85B.” “Gov. Scott Walker signed his first budget Sunday, a plan that plugs the state’s $3 billion shortfall but also slashes funding for public schools and the University of Wisconsin System… Democrats assailed the budget as an attack on middle class values since it cuts funding for public schools by $800 million, reduces funding to the UW system by $250 million and cuts tax credits for poor people.” [Associated Press, 6/26/11]
2014: Walker Proposed Using Budget Surplus to Cut Property and Income Taxes by $500 Million.  Aiming to launch the state’s economy and his own re-election bid, Gov. Scott Walker Wednesday night proposed using a budget surplus to trim taxes by a half-billion dollars…With newly hired workers beside him at the podium in the Assembly, Walker gave a nearly hourlong speech, easily his longest address as governor. He said his “blueprint for prosperity” would trim property and income taxes by $504 million over the next 18 months and put more than $100 million more into the state’s rainy-day fund.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/22/14]
Journal Sentinel Headline: “Top Wage Earners Get Biggest Benefit From Gov. Scott Walker’s Tax Cuts.” “The top 20% of Wisconsin wage earners — those making more than $88,000 a year and paying the most in taxes now — would receive 44% of the benefit of Gov. Scott Walker’s latest proposed tax cuts, a new analysis shows. The bottom 20% of state residents by income — those making below $21,000 a year and paying the least in taxes now — would receive 5% of the $504.6 million Walker wants to cut in property and income taxes, according to the review by the liberal Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy and the Wisconsin Budget Project. That outcome reflects the fact that the tax proposal cuts rates and produces a savings according to what people pay in taxes today. Overall, Walker’s plan is structured to make the state’s tax system slightly more favorable to those with lower incomes and slightly less favorable to those at the very highest end.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/24/14]
Capital Times Headline: “Wealthy Would Benefit More Under Walker Tax Cut Plan.” “By their very nature, across-the-board tax cuts will almost always benefit the wealthy. So it’s no surprise that upper-income households and large landowners in Wisconsin will grab the lion’s share of the $504 million in income and property tax cuts proposed by Gov. Scott Walker in his State of the State address on Wednesday. For example, middle class households in Wisconsin (incomes between $37,000 and $66,000) would see an average cut of $117 while the top 1% ($380,000 or more) would enjoy an average $951 in savings. Those figures are from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, which did an analysis for the Wisconsin Budget Project, a wing of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.” [Capital Times, 1/26/14]
Journal Sentinel Editorial: “Gov. Scott Walker Sacrifices Policy for Politics.” “The heart of Walker’s message Wednesday night was a proposal to give back a big chunk of an expected state surplus to taxpayers on the speculative notion that a tax cut will stimulate the economy. It’s a smart political move in an election year but far less smart as a matter of policy. Even some members of Walker’s own party are concerned about the governor’s plan to cut property and income taxes by a combined $504 million. To do it, Walker would draw down the $912 million in unexpected tax collections that now are projected to flow to the state through June 2015, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. He also proposes to deposit about $100 million into the state’s rainy day fund. We don’t object to property tax relief — property taxes are too high in Wisconsin and have been for years; the property tax is overused as a revenue stream — but we urge the Legislature to set aside more of this found money for the rainy day fund and to make important investments in public education. The state already expects a shortfall north of $700 million in the next two-year budget; Walker’s plan would add to that. That doesn’t strike us as honest budgeting.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/25/14]
2013: Wisconsin: Wealthiest 20% Of Wisconsin Households Would Take Home Over Half Of Scott Walker’s Proposed Income Tax Cut. “The top 20% of Wisconsin households – those making more than $90,000 a year – would take home more than half of all of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed income tax cut, an analysis has found. The top 5% of tax filers – those with incomes above $162,000 – would pull in 20% of Walker’s more than $300 million tax cut… ‘In the long run, a shift from income to sales and excise taxation will definitely make the state’s tax system less progressive; that is, it will shift a larger portion of the costs of government services to those with lower incomes,’ [University of Wisconsin-Madison economist Andrew] Reschovsky wrote in an email.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/24/13]
Chris Christie
Christie Cut $223 Million From NJ Department of Education Budget. “Governor Christie is cutting money from nearly every state department to keep this year’s budget balanced just as another Wall Street ratings agency is warning investors about New Jersey’s creditworthiness… the state Department of Education is losing $223 million from its budget, the most of any state agency.” [The Record, 3/21/14]
The Record Headline: “Another Ratings Agency Drops New Jersey’s Credit Outlook To ‘Negative’”. “Another Wall Street ratings agency is warning investors about the credit outlook for New Jersey, citing the state’s slow recovery from recession and a state budget that remains structurally imbalanced. Fitch Ratings on Friday maintained New Jersey’s ‘AA-‘ credit rating, but lowered the state’s credit outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’ The action follows a similar warning issued in December by Moody’s Investors Service, which also affirmed the state’s credit rating but changed the outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’” [The Record, 3/21/14]
2013: Christie Pushed Senate To “Pass A New Tax Credit Even If They Fear The State Can’t Afford It… Just Days After His Administration Revealed That It Lowered The Forecast For Tax Collections Through The End Of June 2014 By $165 Million”. “Governor Christie issued a new challenge to lawmakers struggling to make sense of recently lowered state revenue projections Wednesday: Pass a new tax credit even if they fear the state can’t afford it…Christie’s latest tax-cut challenge to lawmakers comes just days after his administration revealed that it lowered the forecast for tax collections through the end of June 2014 by $165 million, and as Christie and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, a Democratic state senator, released dueling attack ads that focus on tax and economic issues..” [Bergen Record, 5/23/13]
Press of Atlantic City Editorial: “Christie Proposed Another Tax Cut That Was “Certainly Designed To Help His Re-Election Efforts” And Add To His Presidential Resume, “Unfortunately, None Of The State’s Fundamental Financial Problems Have Changed Since The Last Round Of Tax-Cut Fever.” “Gov. Chris Christie is once again pushing for a tax cut, this time just as his re-election campaign is gearing up. … Others pointed out that Christie already has pushed a $396 million payment for property tax relief for seniors and moderate-income taxpayers into next year to plug a budget hole and that the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services says the state faces a $637 million revenue shortfall by the end of the next fiscal year, in June 2014. … The proposal is certainly designed to help his re-election efforts. And a tax cut would be a nice addition to his resume if, as expected, he seeks the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Unfortunately, none of the state’s fundamental financial problems have changed since the last round of tax-cut fever.” [Editorial, Press of Atlantic, 4/21/13]
Herald News Editorial: Christie’s Tax Plan Would Be “Fiscally Irresponsible” Due To Overly-Optimistic Revenue Projections And A Projected $302 Million Revenue Gap. “GOVERNOR CHRISTIE used Monday’s tax deadline to make another pitch for a tax credit. There was symbolism in the governor laying out a slightly revised tax plan on April 15, but you have to wonder if Christie also was thinking of another date: Nov. 5, Election Day. A governor seeking reelection after pushing through a tax cut or credit has a powerful campaign message… But there also is evidence to support their claim that a tax cut would be fiscally irresponsible. The state’s current budget, which runs through June 30, assumes that revenues will grow by a very optimistic 7 percent. Nine months into the fiscal year, state revenue is rising, but not by that much. David Rosen, the non-partisan budget analyst with the Office of Legislative Services, has projected a $302 million gap between the governor’s revenue forecast and his own by the end of the fiscal year. If that’s the case, the governor will have to make cuts or find ways to increase revenue. That doesn’t make a tax cut look very promising.” [Editorial, Herald News, 4/17/13]
Christie Was “Cruel” By Holding The Earned Income Tax Credit “Hostage” By Attaching It To His Tax Plan. “This week he gave a conditional veto to a bill that would have raised the Earned Income Tax Credit to $550 for the working poor. Conditionally vetoed is the delicate way of putting it; held the EITC hostage is more like it. Christie said he would let the Earned Income Tax Credit increase if lawmakers in Trenton would give him his tax cut, albeit in the form of an income tax credit equal to 10 percent of property tax bills, phased in over four years and capped at $10,000… Not only is Christie’s use of the Earned Income Tax Credit as a bargaining chip cruel, but a property tax credit of any sort, whether promoted by Democrats or Republicans, even if welcomed by many in a better economy, misses what most New Jerseyans desire most: real and permanent property tax relief.” [Editorial, Asbury Park Press, 4/16/13]
Christie Push For A Tax Cut Was “Still Out Of Touch With The Most Pressing Problems Affecting Residents In The State: Unemployment, Stagnant Wages And Foreclosures.” “Gov. Chris Christie’s latest sleight of hand in his quest to cut taxes for the wealthiest individuals is dazzling in its boldness. But his alternate reality is more brassy than golden. And it shows his priorities are still out of touch with the most pressing problems affecting residents in the state: unemployment, stagnant wages and foreclosures.” [Editorial, Star-Ledger, 4/16/13]
Christie Conditionally Vetoed A Bill To Raise The Earned Income Tax Credit, “Ronald Reagan’s Favorite Program,” In Return For A Tax Cut For Households Earning Up To $400,000 In The Form Of An Income Tax Credit Equal To 10 Percent Of Their Property Tax Bill, Capped At $10,000. “Let’s unpack the proposal that Christie wrapped in a conditional veto and dropped in the Legislature’s lap yesterday. The bill would have raised the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps working families. It was President Ronald Reagan’s favorite program because it was no giveaway — it rewarded hard work. More than 500,000 New Jersey taxpayers benefit from the program, which paid an average benefit of $430 for 2010, and that figure would increase to about $550 under the bill. Christie cut the EITC from 25 percent to 20 percent of the federal EITC in his first year in office, and the bill introduced by Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) simply restored the cut. Christie said he’d go along with it — if the Legislature adopted his plan allowing households earning up to $400,000 to receive an income tax credit equal to 10 percent of their property tax bills, which would be phased in over four years and capped at $10,000. Oh, and he’ll throw in a greater refund for renters, from $50 to $200. By 2015. A day late and more than a dollar short for renters most in need.” [Editorial, Star-Ledger, 4/16/13]
Charles Stile: Christie Seemed “To Want A Tax Relief Credit On His Resume, Not Only For Reelection But For A Possible Run For President In 2016.” “The political environment has changed since last year. Christie is now a candidate for reelection, the colorful, caustic hero of superstorm Sandy with a 68 percent approval rating, $2 million in his account and a lead of 30 points over a little-known Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono of Middlesex. Christie appears to want a tax relief credit on his resume, not only for reelection but for a possible run for president in 2016.” [Charles Stile, Bergen Record, 4/16/13]