STEUBENVILLE - Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor predicted a very close race is shaping up in Ohio between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Taylor met Monday afternoon with members of the Herald-Star editorial board for a discussion of state-related issues and offered a personal forecast of the role Ohioans will play in determining the next president.
"It is going to be a very, very close race. There is a lot of campaigning to take place between now and November. And a lot of Ohioans haven't focused in on the November election yet. But I believe Ohioans are looking at the candidate who will have a solid message on the economy and jobs. As the lieutenant governor, I am fearful of missing an opportunity to move forward," Taylor remarked.
ADDRESSING STATE ISSUES — Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor makes a point Monday afternoon while meeting with members of the Herald-Star editorial board. Taylor was in Steubenville to discuss state issues and the role Ohioans will play in the November presidential election. - Dave Gossett
"Ohio is generally a center and center-right state. We are traditional voters who work hard, we want to have a good job and be paid for our work. And, we want to know what the future will look like. Ohioans are also focused on the economy," said Taylor.
Taylor said there are several good potential vice presidential candidates for Romney to consider and agreed U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, "would be a good choice."
Taylor touched on several issues during the meeting, including the federal health care mandate ruled constitutional two weeks ago by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"From our perspective in the administration, we don't have plans to form a state-based exchange because the federal government will have too much control. We do expect to see significant premium increases for Ohioans. And, quite frankly, we are frustrated because we would like to come up with Ohio-based reforms," explained Taylor.
"We have been told to expect to see 55 to 85 percent premium increases for all Americans," she added.
Taylor said the administration of Gov. John Kasich and the Legislature have been working hard on issues surrounding the state's growing oil and gas industry, and have created, "the right balance and have gone a long way to protect the environment and not squashing the industry."
"The governor worked with the Legislature to provide regulations on the materials used for the drilling process," Taylor said.
"We are also looking at how other states are taxing the oil and gas drilling industry. It will be fair for us to take time in looking at the severance tax issue on the industry," Taylor said.
Taylor said a proposal for state government to take over collection of local income taxes, "actually came from the business community."
"We are studying it to determine if it is an economic improvement. It is not about taking control of the local taxes - it is about making Ohio more competitive. We are trying to address concerns from the business community," cited Taylor.
Taylor said businesses can have a difficult time navigating the state's multiple taxation districts. She added the Ohio tax commissioner has said if the state starts collecting local taxes, the turnaround time to return the money to local communities could be reduced to a day.
"But, before we would take any steps in that direction there will have to be a conversation. There would have to be a plan that is fair and acceptable to all sides," Taylor emphasized.
The 45-year-old lieutenant governor was sworn into office in 2011 after Ohio Gov. John Kasich picked the Summit County native as his running mate.
"I wish every Ohioan could see the governor I see. He is a very compassionate person with strong values. He believes you have to have the right economic environment to bring jobs back to Ohio. And, Gov. Kasich expects a lot from himself and the people around him."
Taylor said she believes some of the ideas contained in the controversial Senate Bill 5 will still be implemented.
"The opposition to the law was very clear at that point in time. But, I believe we may see changes in local areas. For example, the Cleveland school district is making changes that may be used in other school districts in the state.," Taylor said.