In his State of the City address
last week, Mayor Mark Mallory called on Cincinnati to continue pushing for
improvements. After years of stalling, projects like Washington Park’s
renovation, the Horseshoe Casino and the streetcar are finally moving forward,
and Mallory wants to make sure that work continues.
Politically and economically, it
makes sense. Not only have voters approved of both the casino and the
streetcar, but the projects will create jobs. Casino developers have already
begun to fill what they promise will be 1,700 permanent jobs, and city
estimates show the first segment of the streetcar will create 300 construction
jobs and 25 permanent jobs.
But while voters and local
politicians may approve, some state Republicans are doing their very best to
tear the projects down. Gov. John Kasich, who dismantled Ohio’s passenger rail
project, tried his hardest to continue his anti-transit rampage by railing
against the streetcar in public speeches last year.
He even ripped away more than
$50 million in state funds from the project.
The casino has been a little
luckier, but not by much. Kasich has claimed both neutrality and approval of
casinos, but he has made building the Horseshoe Casino more difficult. Despite
the fact Ohio has the highest casino tax in the nation, Kasich pushed for
renegotiations for higher taxes and fees last year, ultimately delaying the
casino’s opening from late 2012 to spring 2013.
For the governor, such actions
probably make sense. Kasich has been an ardent supporter of tax cuts — sneaking
them into every single budget even when Ohio had a reported $8 billion deficit.
When he found massive education and health care cuts weren’t enough to close
the gap he helped create, he moved onto casinos and transit projects.
Still, the projects move forward. Kasich and other state
Republicans have not been successful in killing them off, largely thanks to
local voters and local politicians pushing back.
Meanwhile, the casino’s construction is 35 to 40 percent
complete, according to developers. This is despite an accident in January that
resulted in the injury of 20 workers after a steel beam fell and caused a floor
to partially collapse.
But what needs to be clear is that these developments are in
spite of state Republicans like Kasich. When these job-creating projects are
said and done, it’s important credit goes where credit is due — straight to
local voters and local politicians.