Mandel makes visit to Jefferson port authority

WINTERSVILLE – State Treasurer Josh Mandel said Tuesday he is ready to work to reignite discussions on the U.S. Route 250 corridor and announced he is opposed to a tax on the oil and gas industry in Ohio.

Mandel met with the Jefferson County Port Authority during the monthly meeting and declared the Route 250-U.S. Route 22 and U.S. Route 36 corridor, “would be a good thing for the citizens of Jefferson County.”

“I am willing to work with you to make the corridor a priority again in the state Legislature and the governor’s office. I will help put together a meeting with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the state senators and state representatives of the area,” said Mandel.

“Step one will be to put the issue on the radar – have the legislators from the area communicate the same message and reignite the conversation. There is a very compelling case to be made for the corridor. The governor has a good understanding of the potential for economic growth along the corridor area,” Mandel said.

He also said the state should focus on training more skilled workers for the growing oil and gas industry.

“Some companies are good about Ohio workers. But there are other companies who bring in out-of-state license plates. I want to see Ohioans working in Ohio,” cited Mandel.

“I’m 36 years old and if you look at my age group a lot of people have liberal arts degrees and a $100,000 loan to pay off. They may be better off with a two-year degree in a technical trade. We need more young people working in skilled trades. Eastern Gateway Community College is terrific. We should be investing more money in community colleges and vocational skills. We need to provide the next generation with skilled trades,” said Mandel.

“Ohio can help lead America’s economic comeback but we need a well trained work force. I am willing to help in any way possible to make that happen,” said Mandel.

He also said he disagrees with his fellow Republicans and is opposed to a tax on the oil and gas industry.

“I don’t think we should incur a tax on the oil and gas industry. We don’t want to kill the golden goose before the egg is laid. It would be a shame if the severance tax would push companies to drill in other states. The tax has the potential of stunting job growth. But if the tax becomes a reality, I believe the taxes should stay in this part of the state. The natural resources and mineral rights belong to the land owners and we should be focused on this part of the state. We don’t need a tax increase to benefit the rest of the state,” remarked Mandel.

“I also believe the more energy we produce in Ohio the less we depend on radical Islamic leaders in the Middle East. I am fighting tooth and nail against the tax. Gov. (John) Kasich is doing a very good job. But we just don’t agree on the tax issue,” said Mandel.

Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham asked Mandel to consider reinstating some of the Local Government funding, but Mandel said local governments need to consider sharing services.

“We have too many political subdivisions in America and we don’t have the money for all of those subdivisions. Our mayors and township trustees need to talk about sharing services. We also need to put aside the D and the R after our names and work more effectively together. It will require leadership to see local communities working together,” explained Mandel.

“It is also important to stop unfunded mandates on communities. We now have a governor who understands unfunded mandates are bad for Ohio,” added Mandel.

In other business, Port Authority Executive Director Evan Scurti said he met with the Mingo Steel Works special projects manager and plans to meet with the owners of the River Rail Development property in Steubenville, “and I am hoping for future partnerships with both companies.”

“We have three proposals in front of us that I would qualify as prospects which are more serious than just a preliminary inquiry,” noted Scurti.

He also said he was pleased with last week’s “Meet and Greet” at the Towers and said approximately 100 people attended event.

The port authority board of directors met for 65 minutes in executive session to discuss the possible lease, sale or purchase of property as well as a business request for economic development assistance.

And Scurti said a meeting between the port authority board and the Steubenville Council is tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on April 10.

Graham said he is hopeful for a “frank discussion between the port authority and the city council.”

“We plan to discuss how we can all work together in the future,” stated Scurti.