Columbus Dispatch: FitzGerald campaigns against changes made to homestead exemptions
By Joe Vardon
We’ve apparently already reached the “bracketing” stage of the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Likely Democratic nominee Ed FitzGerald held a campaign press conference this morning at the Gillie Senior Recreation Center on Morse Road.
The man he will try to beat next fall, Republican Gov. John Kasich, launched his Steady U Ohio anti-falls program for seniors in the exact same spot some 24 days ago.
The politicians’ target demographic was obviously the same, but their messages were quite different. FitzGerald’s event was to again draw attention to his opposition of changes to the homestead exemption Kasich signed into law as part of the budget on June 30 — the second such press conference FitzGerald has had in Columbus in about two weeks.
“We’re going to continue speaking out about it all over the state until Gov. Kasich concedes that he made a mistake,” FitzGerald said.
FitzGerald, 45, was surrounded by six seniors at this morning’s news conference. Five of them were already over 65, meaning they would not be affected by changes to the homestead exemption that would limit eligibility to $30,000 in adjusted gross income for people who turn 65 after Jan. 1 to qualify for the property tax break.
“I’m 70, so I’m lucky,” said Dave Girves, of Columbus. “But I’ve got kids that won’t be eligible.”
“It’s absolutely tragic that my fellow Velcro generation members who aren’t 65 already won’t be eligible,” said Bob Crosby, 76, of Columbus.
“I feel sort of betrayed,” said Anita Beck, 60, a retired teacher from Worthington.
The homestead exemption changes were approved as part of a three-year, net $2.7 billion tax cut in Ohio. Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
FitzGerald continues to take heat from Republicans for his push as Cuyahoga County executive to apply a bed tax to free hotel rooms in his county. He says the idea is targeted toward high rollers who are given complimentary rooms at the Horsehoe Casino in downtown Cleveland, but opponents say it would make hotels in the area less competitive.
“Mr. Fitzgerald has a history of wasteful spending and over-taxation,” said Eli Miller, Ohio director for Americans for Prosperity, in an emailed statement. “The businesses and taxpayers in Cuyahoga County are not revenue streams for endless funding requests. We hope he will withdraw the proposal and put the hotel tax to bed.”