Kasich budget plan gets mixed reviews, poll finds

Gov. John Kasich’s biggest plans in his two-year state budget proposal are getting mixed reviews from Ohio voters, according to a poll released Friday by Quinnipiac University.

Voters say 48 percent to 42 percent that cutting the income tax and collecting more revenue from the sales tax is a bad idea. But the same percentages agree with the idea of opening up Ohio Medicaid to more people.

“Gov. John Kasich is popular, but voters don’t like his view that the income tax should be cut and the sales tax broadened as a preferable way to raise state revenue,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “When it is explained to them that Kasich wants to cut the income tax from 5.5 to 5 percent and increase the services that would be subject to the sales tax, they like that idea even less, 51 percent to 40 percent.”

Kasich is asking lawmakers to approve expanding Ohio Medicaid to add another 265,000 Ohioans. Currently, 2.2 million poor and disabled people are enrolled in the program, which costs $19 billion a year in state and federal funds. The federal government promises to pick up 100 percent of the cost of expanding the program for the first three years and then dial it back to cover 90 percent of the cost in outlying years. The expansion is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The poll found that Obamacare is unpopular: 48 percent of Ohio voters disapprove of it, 39 percent approve of it, 39 percent say the health law will hurt rather than help them and 39 percent say it won’t affect them.

Expanding Medicaid appears to be a partisan issue with 71 percent of Democrats supporting it, 65 percent of Republicans opposing it and 48 percent of independents supporting it, the poll found.

Although not part of Kasich’s budget proposal, the poll asked Ohioans about gun control and found:

* 90 percent favor background checks for all gun purchases;

* 86 percent of households where there is a gun favor background checks for all gun purchases;

* 53 percent favor a nationwide ban on assault weapons;

* 60 percent of gun owners oppose an assault weapon ban;

* 57 percent say gun ownership makes people safer.

The poll also found that 49 percent to 40 percent say the National Rifle Association rather than President Obama best reflect their own views on guns.

“On gun policy public opinion might be seen as a paradox,” said Brown. “Voters overwhelming favor background checks for those buying guns and want to ban assault weapons and ammunition clips with more than 10 bullets - positions that are in opposition to those espoused by the NRA. Yet, they see the NRA more in tune with their views on gun policy than President Barack Obama, who favors background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Moreover, on the key question of whether guns make society safer or less safe, by almost 2-1 voters see them as making society safer. Asked whether they would favor stricter gun control laws, 41 percent say yes, while 11 percent say they should be made less strict and 44 percent say existing laws are about right.”

Meanwhile, Ohio voters are split in their opinion of Barack Obama’s performance, giving him a 48 percent - 47 percent job approval rating.

The poll surveyed 1,011 registered voters from Feb. 21 to Feb. 26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

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